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SC dismisses Sanjay Dutt's plea to contest polls

Last updated on: March 31, 2009 15:05 IST

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's plea to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections was on Tuesday rejected by the Supreme Court, which refused to stay his conviction in connection with the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.

"We are not inclined to suspend his conviction," a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said.

"It is not a fit case to grant stay of conviction," the bench also comprising Justices P Sathasivam and R M Lodha said.

Dutt had been fielded by the Samajwadi Party as its candidate for Lucknow Lok Sabha seat.

The court said Dutt was convicted for 'serious offence' under the Arms Act by a Mumbai TADA court.

The bench said that the actor's case could not be equated with that of BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose conviction and sentence in a road rage case was stayed by the apex court to enable him to contest the Amritsar by-elections in 2007.

The bench said that Dutt was disqualified from contesting the elections under Section 8 (3) of the Representation of People Act, which debars a person sentenced to two or more years of imprisonment, from standing for polls.

The judges said that the power of the court to suspend the conviction of a person to enable him to contest the elections has to be exercised rarely.

The Court, while disallowing Dutt's plea, noted that his father Sunil Dutt was a famous politician and a Union Minister. The bench noted that Dutt was not a habitual criminal, but it was not a fit case to grant him relief.

The judge said that though Dutt's counsel had made submissions about the evidence in the case for the grant of relief, it cannot be considered at this stage since his appeal was pending in the apex court.

The court had on Monday reserved its order on Dutt's plea after hearing the contention from the actor and the Central Bureau of Investigation, which opposed his plea. The actor had sought suspension of the conviction on issues similar to the ones considered by the apex court while staying the conviction of Sidhu. Dutt contended that his conduct during the trial should be considered for granting him relief like Sidhu.

Dutt, 50, pleaded before the apex court to consider his case on grounds similar to that of Sidhu and to take into account that he was absolved of the serious offence under TADA apart from taking cognisance of the fact that there was not a single case registered against him before the Mumbai blasts.

His counsel had contended that Dutt's conviction was based solely on the confessional statement, which was opposed by the CBI. The probe agency had claimed that the actor was held guilty also on the basis of recoveries, disclosures and corroborative evidences.

The Bollywood star, who was sentenced to six-year jail term on July 31, 2007, had spent 18 months in jail during the pendency of the trial. He filed an appeal against his November 28, 2006, conviction in the apex court which had granted him bail on November 27, 2007.

Dutt was convicted under the Arms Act for possession of an AK-56 rifle, a 9 mm pistol and grenades given by co-accused Abu Salem before the Mumbai blasts.