Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who is currently serving his five year jail term after being convicted in the 1993 bomb blasts case, on Friday made it clear that he had never filed for pardon with the Maharashtra governor nor had he requested anyone else to do so on his behalf.
Dutt's advocates Hitesh Jain and Subhash Jadhav, in a statement released said the recent reports stating that the Maharashtra governor has turned down the actor's plea for pardon, are based on an application made by retired Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju seeking pardon for Dutt and other convicts in the case.
"No such application for grant of pardon was ever made by Sanjay Dutt or his family members to the governor seeking pardon. Further, Sanjay Dutt or his family members never approached former Supreme Court Justice Katju for making an application for pardon on behalf of Dutt," the statement said. "Justice Katju has suo moto made this application for pardon not only for Dutt but also for other convicts in the case like Zaibunissa Kazi," it added.
The statement said that Dutt has almost finished his imprisonment and shall be a free man soon.
Katju had petitioned Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao to pardon Dutt as he was "not a terrorist" and had only "erred".
Rao had two days back rejected the pardon plea following the advice of the Maharashtra home department which had recommended that granting Dutt pardon would set a bad precedent.
Fifty-six-year-old Dutt was convicted in 2007 by a special TADA court under the Arms Act for possession of arms and sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment. Dutt had spent 18 months in jail in 1996 after his arrest.
In May 2013, the actor surrendered after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence. The actor has since then been lodged in the Yerwada central prison at Pune. After he was sent to Yerwada in May 2013, Dutt had been out on parole twice and an equal number of times on furlough.
In October 2013, he was out on furlough for 14 days, which was extended by a fortnight. In January 2014, a 30-day parole was extended by another 30 days. In December 2014, he was granted a 14-day furlough. Since August 27, 2015, he has been again out on furlough.
Dutt has spent nearly 30 months in prison already and is due to walk out as a free man in February 2016.
In his petition, Katju had said, "The only charge on which Sanjay Dutt has been found guilty is the charge of having in his possession a prohibited weapon."
Katju had also emphasised that he was in no way questioning the Supreme Court verdict. The former Supreme Court Justice had written that though the imprisonment of five years for possessing the weapon was correct, Dutt had suffered enough after spending 18 months in jail before he was sentenced in March 2013 and thus his would be a fit case for pardon.