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Will continue to seek pardon for Sanjay Dutt, says Katju

New Delhi: Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju on Thursday said he would continue to appeal for a pardon for Sanjay Dutt despite the actor``s decision to surrender.

"I will continue to appeal to both the President and the Governor because I think he deserves to be pardoned," Katju told media here after Dutt, who has been sentenced to five years in jail for illegal possession of weapons in a case linked to the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts, said he will surrender before the authorities as per the Supreme Court``s direction.

Katju had earlier said Dutt should be pardoned under Article 161 of the Constitution as he had not been found guilty of having played a role in the 1993 blasts and had suffered a lot.

Earlier this morning, an emotional Dutt while briefing media here, said : "I will surrender within the timeframe set by the Supreme Court. I have the highest respect for the SC and will abide by the law."

"I want to tell with folded hands to the media, the honourable citizens of the country that when I am not going for pardon then there can be no debate about it," Dutt added.

"I have a lot of work to finish. Just want to spend this time with my family and finish my work," he said.

"I want to thank everyone who supported me. I love my country. I love India," he added.

Beside Katju, several noted personalities including actor-turned-politicians Jaya Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha had sought pardon for Dutt.

Former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and Rampur Lok Sabha MP Jayaprada on March 26 met Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan and sought clemency for Dutt.

The apex court, which last week upheld the death sentence of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, a key conspirator with Dawood Ibrahim in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, ordered that Dutt return to jail to serve three-and-a-half years sentence for possessing illegal arms.

Dutt, who is out on bail, will also have to surrender within four weeks to serve a jail term of 42 months as the apex court reduced to five years the six year jail term awarded to him by a designated TADA court in 2007 and he had already spent 18 months behind the bar.

A total of 257 persons were killed and 713 others injured when a series 13 coordinated explosions shattered the metropolis on March 12, 1993.

The blasts occurred at 12 places, including Bombay Stock Exchange building, Air-India Building at Nariman Point, at Worli opposite Century Bazaar, Hotels Sea Rock and Juhu Centaur.