A Mumbai court jailed Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt for six years on Tuesday for acquiring illegal weapons from gangsters involved in India’s worst bombings that killed 257 people in 1993.
“It was an eminently dangerous act,” judge Pramod Kode said. “With the punishment of a minimum of five years and maximum of 10 years it can in no way be a minor offence or of a less grave nature.”
Dutt’s trial has transfixed India and fans of Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry by ticket sales. He has millions of dollars riding on him in films under production.
The actor is the most high-profile among 100 people, mostly Muslims, found guilty in the bombings trial, one of the world’s longest-running court cases.
The 1993 Mumbai attacks were ordered by India’s most wanted man, Dawood Ibrahim, a Muslim, to avenge the razing of a 16th-century mosque by Hindu zealots in 1992 and subsequent Hindu-Muslim riots in India, police say.
Ibrahim and his top associates have not faced trial as they fled the country soon after the blasts, police say. Ibrahim is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, but the government in Islamabad denies this.
Dutt’s lawyers had urged that the actor, who found fame playing gangsters and anti-heroes, be set free for his good behaviour during his bail.
But the court rejected the argument.
Son of legendary film couple Sunil Dutt and Nargis, the heavy-set actor has been on bail since 1995 after more than a year in prison during initial investigations into the blasts.
He is expected to appeal.
Actor Sanjay Dutt, who has been given six years imprisonment for illegal arms possession, on Thursday lost his appeal to be serve his term in Mumbai and will be transferred to Pune’s Yerwada Jail.
The Inspector General (Prisons) told CNN-IBN that Dutt would be transferred to the Yerwada Jail soon.
Dutt’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde confirmed the news.
Dutt had requested TADA court judge P D Kode not to transfer him from the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, as he feared for his security and health.
Dutt suffered a setback in his appeal when the Arthur Road Jail, which usually houses undertrials, gave a report to the court that the actor be shifted out
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters the Arthur Road Jail didn’t have industries to employ Dutt, who has to work in prison as part of his punishment.
Dutt’s family reportedly wanted him to stay in Mumbai for security reasons. All the other convicts in the case, including the 12 who have been given capital punishment, have been moved to jails in Pune, Nasik, Kolhapur and Aurangabad after their sentencing.
Inside Arthur Road Jail, Dutt has had to exchange his trademark jeans and shirt for a white kurta and pajama, the standard attire for a convict.
“He must have worn the clothes (of a prisoner) many times in his long film career. This time it’s for real,” said a senior official at the high-security jail in central Mumbai.
Dutt had his dinner late Tuesday evening after being taken into the jail, the third time he has been held there since his arrest in 1993. The only difference was that he is now a convict.
“His meals comprise dal, rice and chapatis while breakfast is poha and fruits. No special treatment is being given to him,” the official said. “Breakfast is served at 0730 hours, lunch at 1130 and dinner at 1800.”