Mumbai: Eminent criminal lawyer Majid Memon, who defended many of the accused in the 1993 blasts case, on Thursday said there is only a "narrow" window open for the actor Sanjay Dutt to seek relief after the Supreme Court sentenced him to five years in jail.
    
"He has only a narrow window of approaching a larger bench or file a review petition but in that case also, I am afraid that unless the stay is granted on Thursday's order, he will have to walk into the prison," Memon told reporters after the verdict.
    
Describing the sentence as "unfortunate", Memon said since the actor had already undergone 18 months' imprisonment, he was expecting that the apex court, after examining evidence against him and taking into account facts and circumstances singularly applicable to him, could give him the "benefit of sentence undergone".
    
"But in its wisdom and fairness, the Supreme Court has felt that he needs to be sentenced to five years. Consequently, he will have to go back and suffer the remaining period of his sentence.
    
"The law says once the highest court has passed the order, the law will take its own course. Proceedings will start unless stayed by the highest court," he said.
    
About commuting of the death sentence of 10 convicts to life imprisonment, Memon said, "I must say that these young men in their 20s and 30s were only pawns. They were used as foot soldiers by some others. Another thing is that they had already served 18-20 years in prison.
    
"I think all these factors must have weighed in the mind of the Supreme Court which felt that the aim of justice would be met if their death sentence can be converted into life," he said.

DUTT ONLY FOOLISH, NOT A TERRORIST

Speaking on Sanjay Dutt's conviction under the Arms Act in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, Majid Memon on Thursday said the Bollywood actor was "foolish" for illegally possessing weapons.

Dutt has been told to surrender in four weeks."Dutt was young and foolish back then for illegally possessing weapons. He is neither a traitor nor a terrorist. It is unfortunate that he has been branded as a criminal for what can only be defined as foolishness," Memon told.

Memon said that even if Dutt pretended to be strong and showed courage, he surely was a broken man from within. "He has already undergone a traumatic 20 years, which in itself is a big punishment for illegally possessing weapons," Memon said."

On Thursday, Dutt is a much different a person from what he used to be in the 1990s. He has also suffered a lot on account of his foolish act. He has been under the cloud of accusations because of the snail's pace of our litigation system," he added.

Memon said Dutt's team of counsel would carefully examine the apex court judgment, examine every word and explore possibilities of a review petition to get out of the situation."But in my view, the window is very narrow and hopes do not seem to be very high.

The entire film industry has plunged into gloom the moment the news spread like wildfire," he said. The actor, who was convicted under the Arms Act, was awarded six years' imprisonment by a Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court in 2007.

However, the apex court reduced the sentence to five years. This means Dutt will be in jail for three years and six months since he has already undergone 18 months' imprisonment. The apex court upheld the death sentence of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon in the case and commuted the death sentence of 10 others. The 13 serial bomb blasts that rocked Mumbai March 12, 1993, claimed 257 lives.

(Agencies)