CBI’s stand sought on Dutt’s plea for suspending conviction


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Friday sought the stand of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Maharashtra government on a lawsuit by Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt seeking suspension of his conviction in a criminal case to enable him to contest elections.

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A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Markandey Katju and Justice P. Sathasivam issued notices to the CBI and the state government and sought their replies within two weeks. It will hold the next hearing of Dutt’s plea on March 30.

Dutt, who was sentenced to six years in jail by an anti-terror court, moved the court Thursday seeking parity with cricketer-turned-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose conviction in a case of unintentional killing was stayed by the apex court in 2007 to enable him to run for elections.

Dutt has been convicted for possessing firearms ahead of the 1993 Mumbai serial terror bombings.

A person convicted for a criminal offence and sentenced to jail for more than two years is barred from running for elections.

The Samajwadi Party wants to field Dutt from the Lucknow constituency.

The actor has already filed another suit in the apex court challenging his conviction. The court is yet to adjudicate on it. Now he has moved the apex court as an interim measure to have his conviction suspended for the time being to fight the elections.

He was taken into custody on July 31, 2007, when the Mumbai anti-terror court sentenced him to six years in jail. On Nov 27, 2007, the apex court granted him bail, pending a decision on his plea against conviction.

Appearing for Dutt, senior counsel Harish Salve pleaded to the court that his client has no criminal antecedents and was acquitted of terror charges by the Mumbai court.

He also pleaded that Dutt belongs to a family of well-known social servants, with his late father, actor and central minister Sunil Dutt having represented North-West Mumbai several times in the Lok Sabha and his sister now representing that constituency.

Dutt also pointed out that the United Nations had chosen him as its goodwill ambassador on malnutrition.

Salve said like Sidhu, Dutt too has no serious or grave criminal antecedents.

Sidhu was convicted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2007 in a case of unintentional killing after a minor road accident. He had quit his Amritsar seat and approached the apex court to seek suspension of his conviction to fight for the same seat in a by-poll, which was granted by the court. He won the by-poll.

The court had Wednesday dismissed a similar plea by underworld don Babloo Srivastava.

Srivastava had moved the apex court last month for suspension of his conviction so that he could fight the election. But the apex court dismissed his plea, agreeing with Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran’s argument that the underworld don has grave criminal antecedents and he had to be extradited from Singapore to bring him to justice in India.

Srivastava is serving a life term in an Uttar Pradesh jail for murdering a bureaucrat in 1993.

Lok Sabha MP Rajiv Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav too has moved the Patna High Court seeking suspension of his conviction in a murder case to fight the April-May Lok Sabha elections.