Actor Sanjay Dutt, who has to undergo three-and-a-half years in jail in the Mumbai serial blasts case, on Thursday said he believed in judiciary and would explore legal options after going through the Supreme Court verdict.
"I still believe in judiciary. My family is with me and I am still strong," he said in his first reaction to the judgment upholding his conviction in the 1993 case.
Fifty three-year-old Dutt, who remained confined in his 10th floor flat at 'Imperial Heights' at Pali Hill in suburban Bandra, said in an SMS to the media he would explore legal options available after going through the verdict.
Earlier, his lawyer Satish Maneshinde had said he had accepted the punishment handed down by the apex court "as it is".
Maneshinde, who represented Dutt at the trial in the blasts case in the TADA court, said he had spoken to the actor who will have to undergo three-and-a-half more years in jail. "Sanjay Dutt told me I have accepted the judgment as it is. I have accepted it," Maneshinde said quoting the actor.
The lawyer said though they will pursue the legal course available, "I am not sure what relief he can claim". "But Sanjay Dutt will abide by the apex court's order of undergoing the sentence of three-and-a-half years in letter and spirit. Three-and-a-half-years is not a long period," he said.
"We have prepared him (for sentence) from the very beginning. Sanjay Dutt is a strong man and will fight for himself," Maneshinde said.
Eminent criminal lawyer Majid Memon, who defended many of the accused in the case, said there was only a "narrow" window open for actor to seek relief after the Supreme Court judgment. "He has only a narrow window of approaching a larger bench or file a review petition but in that case also, I am afraid that unless stay is granted on today's order, he will have to walk into the prison," Memon told reporters in Mumbai.
Describing as "unfortunate" Dutt's conviction, Memon said since the actor had already undergone 18 months' imprisonment, he was expecting that the apex court, after examining evidence against him and taking into account facts and circumstances singularly applicable to him, could give him the "benefit of sentence undergone".
"But in its wisdom and fairness, the Supreme Court has felt that he needs to be sentenced to five years. Consequently, he will have to go back and suffer the remaining period of his sentence. The law says once the highest court has passed the order, the law will take its own course. Proceedings will start unless stayed by the highest court," he said.
As Dutt remained closeted with close family and friends at his home, several Bollywood personalities including director Rajkumar Hirani and actor Vidya Balan went to him to express their solidarity.
B-town personalities Apoorva Lakhia, Milan Luthria, Sujoy Ghosh, Bunty Walia, Rumi Jaffery and Congress MLA Baba Siddiqui, a close family friend, also visited him.
Security at 'Imperial Heights' has been tightened with a police van being stationed inside the premises.