New Delhi, Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati has advised the central government against challenging the acquittal of Bollywood star-cum-politician Sanjay Dutt from terror charges in connection with the 1993 bombings in Mumbai, law ministry sources say.
The sources said Vahanvati gave his view while confirming Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian’s legal opinion in 2007 that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) failed to adduce enough evidence against Dutt for his conviction under terror charges. He was convicted instead for illegal possession of arms.
Accordingly, Subramanian, then functioning as additional solicitor general, had told the government that owing to paucity of evidence linking Dutt to terrorism, the anti-terror court of Mumbai had rightly convicted him for only possessing illegal arms.
Subramanian had accordingly opined that it would not be a sound legal proposition for the government to go in an appeal against the anti-terror law’s court verdict on Sanjay Dutt.
But the government had sought a fresh round of legal opinion from its top law officer on a plea by the CBI.
The investigation agency had wanted to know if its failure to challenge Dutt’s acquittal from terror charges might strengthen the appeals of other terror convicts in the Mumbai serial bombings case.
Dutt, now a Samajwadi Party general secretary, had moved the apex court challenging his conviction for possessing illegal arms. The case relates to the Mumbai bombings that followed the 1992 razing of the Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh.
Dutt was sentenced to six years of jail July 31, 2007 by the Mumbai anti-terror court of special judge P.D. Kode. He was given bail by the apex court Nov 27, 2007 after the CBI took a lenient view against him and other similarly placed people convicted of charges other than terrorism.
The 1993 terror bombings, which claimed 257 lives, have been blamed on the Mumbai underworld and Pakistani intelligence agencies. Its targets included Mumbai landmarks such as the Bombay Stock Exchange and Air India headquarters.