Governor rejects Sanjay Dutt's mercy plea

The Maharashtra governor has rejected a plea seeking pardon for actor Sanjay Dutt, who is serving jail term in an arms possession case related to the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

Governor Vidyasagar Rao rejected the petition filed in 2013 by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju seeking pardon for Dutt.

Reports say say the governor rejected the petition on the recommendation of the state home department, which said it would set a bad precedent.

The 55-year-old actor is serving a five-year sentence for possessing illegal firearms that was part of a cache of weapons meant to be used during the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. The blasts killed over 250 people in Mumbai. 

Dutt is currently out on parole for his daughter's nose surgery. His frequent breaks from jail have been criticised as evidence of VIP treatment. Between May 2013 and 2014, Dutt spent over 118 days out of prison.

He is due to be released in February 2016.

In his petition, Katju had argued that the Supreme Court had held that Dutt was not involved in the 1993 bomb blasts, and he is not a terrorist, "The only charge on which Sanjay Dutt has been found guilty is the charge of having in his possession a prohibited weapon. However, regarding this charge the Supreme Court has observed that Sanjay Dutt was keeping the weapon not for terrorist activity but for self-defence. This being the verdict of the Supreme Court it has be accepted," Katju had said.

In 2007,  Dutt was cleared of conspiracy charges in the attacks but found guilty of illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a pistol, which he claimed he required to protect himself and his family during the rioting that erupted in Mumbai after a series of bombs exploded at the city's landmarks.