1993 Mumbai blasts: Maharashtra Governor rejects plea seeking pardon for Sanjay Dutt

A 2013 petition filed by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju seeking pardon for actor Sanjay Dutt in the illegal possession of arms case, related to the 1993 blasts, was rejected by Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao. Dutt will continue to be behind bars till February 2016. Governor Rao rejected the petition on recommendation from the Maharashtra Home department, which said it would set a bad precedent as the actor’s conviction was confirmed by the Supreme Court. A source said, “The state government sent the recommendation to the Governor on September 8 and on September 15 the Governor rejected the petition for granting pardon.”
In his petition, Katju had then said, “The only charge on which Sanjay Dutt has been found guilty is the charge of having in his possession a prohibited weapon”. He had also emphasised that he was in no way questioning the Supreme Court verdict. He 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 would be a fit case for pardon. “I prayed that until my pardon petition is disposed of respite should be granted because Article 72 not only empowers the President to grant pardon, it also empowers the President to grant respite or suspension of sentence. So, till the pardon petition is decided, I have prayed that the President should grant respite,” Katju had said. Along with Dutt, Katju had also sought pardon for Zaibunnisa Kazi, another convict in the 1993 blasts case. Katju had written, “I am not appealing that Sanjay Dutt should be pardoned because he is a celebrity. I am also appealing for pardon to Zaibunnasa Kazi, co-accused who is not a celebrity.” Dutt has been lodged at the Yerwada prison since the Supreme Court upheld his conviction in the case. There has, however, been a spate of controversies after Dutt had been granted parole and furlough a couple of times by the state. Recently, he was granted parole on grounds that his daughter was undergoing a nose surgery. However, it later turned out that the surgery had already been performed before he was out on parole. Dutt was found guilty in 2013 of acquiring illegal weapons from those involved in the deadly 1993 blasts in Mumbai in which 257 people were killed, and hundreds injured. He was sentenced to six years in jail in 2007 by a special TADA court; he served 18 months but then was out on bail, fighting the conviction until the Supreme court in March 2013 ordered him back to jail in Pune.