New Delhi - India's top court on Wednesday granted Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt four weeks of freedom before he must return to prison for firearms offences, but refused him more time to meet filming commitments.
Dutt, who was convicted for possessing arms supplied by the plotters of deadly blasts in Mumbai in 1993, had appealed on humanitarian grounds for another six months of freedom because of his on-set commitments.
In a ruling by the Supreme Court, a two-judge bench said they were "not inclined to extend the time" by the six months Dutt had requested.
The muscular, tattooed 53-year-old was freed on bail in 2007 after serving 18 months of a five-year sentence and was allowed his liberty while appealing his conviction.
'I am a shattered man'
But last month the Supreme Court ruled he must return to jail by 18 April to serve the remainder of his sentence for the possession of firearms supplied by gangland bosses who staged the string of bombings that killed 257 people in Mumbai.
At an emotional press conference last month, Dutt, whose late parents were two of India's biggest film stars, said he would accept his fate and surrender to prison authorities before his deadline.
He tearfully said at the time: "I am a shattered man, my family is shattered. These are tough times in my life."
The actor, whose mother was Muslim and whose father was Hindu, was acquitted in 2007 of conspiracy charges over the blasts staged by Mumbai's criminal world.
The bombings across the city were seen as retaliation for religious rioting in which mainly Muslims died following the razing of an ancient mosque.
Despite the acquittal Dutt was found guilty of possession of an automatic rifle and a pistol, which he insisted were only meant to protect his family amid the highly charged atmosphere in Mumbai following the mosque's destruction.
Analysts estimate there are some 2.5 billion rupees ($45m) riding on Dutt in Bollywood, with four or five films in the pipeline.
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