Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case, today told a TADA court that he was facing threat to life from fundamentalist groups and hence should be allowed to surrender before Yerwada jail instead of the special court.
Dutt filed an application before special TADA Judge GA Sanap seeking permission to surrender before the Yerwada jail in Pune instead of giving himself up before the special court in south Mumbai.
Dutt, whose conviction under the Arms Act was upheld by the Supreme Court recently, is supposed to surrender on May 16.
Supreme Court had reduced to five years the six-year jail term awarded to Dutt by a designated TADA court in 2006 while ruling out his release on probation, saying the "nature" of his offence was "serious".
Dutt was convicted by the TADA court for illegally possessing a 9 mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle, which were part of a consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for coordinated serial blasts that killed 257 people and injured over 700 in 1993.
"The applicant (Dutt) is facing threat to life from fundamentalist groups and those with vested interests," the application said. It further claimed that the actor wanted to avoid a rerun of a past situation when media and camera persons had chased his vehicle from Mumbai to Pune as he was being taken to jail after the TADA court convicted him.
"The media vehicles had chased the applicant's vehicle for 120 kilometres in the past," the application said. Judge Sanap today asked the prosecuting agency CBI to file a reply and posted the hearing on Dutt's plea tomorrow.
Public prosecutor Deepak Salvi appeared for the government and CBI. Dutt filed the application in the TADA court, hours after the Supreme Court refused to grant the actor additional time to surrender for undergoing the remaining 42 months jail term in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.
The apex court was hearing a petition filed by a film producer, who sought time for Dutt to complete his under-production films.
On May 10, the apex court had dismissed Dutt's plea seeking review of its judgement on his conviction and the five-year jail term.
53-year-old Dutt was earlier granted four weeks more time to surrender to undergo the remaining jail term. The Supreme Court, on March 21, had upheld his conviction in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, which it said was engineered by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and others with the involvement of Pakistan's ISI.