With the Supreme Court Friday rejecting Sanjay Dutt's petition seeking review of its judgement in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, top lawyers involved in the case said the actor has no option but to surrender and start serving his term before seeking relief.
They said the apex court's ruling was "expected" and a "foregone conclusion".
"This is no news. Had he been allowed some relief it would have been news," eminent criminal lawyer Majid Memon, who defended many of the accused in the case, said.
"He has no option but to surrender on the appointed day, get in (jail), and then seek relief of remission, which I hope he may get," he said.
Memon said it was "not the end of the road" for the actor as mercy petitions filed by various individuals and organisations "may also be taken up any day and decided in his favour".
Ujjwal Nikam, who led the prosecution at the trial, also said the ruling was along expected lines.
Asked if Dutt could file a curative petition to preempt his imprisonment, he said, "The curative petition will also stand on the same footing as review petition."
"After rejection of his plea for review of the judgement, he will have to surrender and go to jail. He can apply for leniency and mercy, but only after he goes to jail," Nikam said.
The Supreme Court had on April 17 extended the deadline for Dutt's surrender by four weeks on "humanitarian" grounds after he had sought six months time to give himself up to serve the remaining jail term.
Dutt, 53, had pleaded he had to complete his seven movies in which producers had invested over Rs 278 crore.
The actor has already spent 18 months in jail in the blasts case and has to serve 42 more.
Photograph: Arko Dutta/Reuters