LAWFUEL – Bollywood’s Sanjay Dutt turned down his lawyer’s plea for interim bail, indicating a hard line by the Supreme Court of India. Dutt, 48, has been sentenced in relation to taking weapons from gangsters who are linked to the Mumbai bombings that claimed 257 lives in 1993.
“We must adopt a uniform standard,” said a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran as it turned down repeated pleas by Dutt’s counsel Fali S Nariman to hear the actor’s interim bail plea on Monday. The India Times reported that the court did not relent even when Nariman argued that Dutt’s case was different since he had been acquitted of the terror charge. The Bench responded by saying that all matters were connected as they arose from the same judgment.
The actor appealed against his conviction and sought bail claiming the judgement was based on a confession that he had later retracted and promising not to commit any offence while on bail.
Dutt, however, can derive comfort from the fact that the court seemed to appreciate his argument that the denial of the copy of the judgment of the Tada court to him infringed section 363(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and, therefore, marked a violation of his fundamental rights.
Rejecting Nariman’s persistent advocacy for interim bail, the Bench said the bail pleas of all the convicts, who have moved the apex court so far to challenge the orders of the Tada court, would be heard along with Dutt on August 20. These include Baba Musa Chauhan, a businessman who was among the persons who went to the actor’s Bandra bungalow with film producers Sameer Hingora and Haneef Kadawala to deliver the arms.
Finding that there was no hope of Dutt getting out of Yerwada prison before August 20, Nariman said the apex court should not lose sight of the grave violation of the fundamental right of the accused due to non-supply of the conviction judgment by the Tada court.
“This stifles his right to effectively challenge the conviction and is a violation of right to life, which is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” he said. The CJI said he was inclined to agree with the contention but made it amply clear that the apex court could not be seen to be making a special case out of Dutt’s interim bail plea.
“You may be right on the question of violation of Article 21, but we will consider this on August 20 after getting the response of CBI. We won’t wait till the final judgment copy is received,” Justice Balakrishnan said in the CJI’s crowded court where lawyers unrelated to the case crammed in to get first hand information. Hanging from the high ceiling above, most of the 14 ceiling fans rotated in slow motion.