Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison for illegally possessing guns that he received from key plotters behind the 1993 bombings in Mumbai.
The well-known actor already has served 18 months in jail following his arrest, and it appears he will have to serve at least another four years behind bars — a sentence that is surely to leave Bollywood scrambling to fill roles he was slated to star in.
"It is a body blow to the film industry," said Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt, who directed Dutt in the 1986 hit movie Namm, or "Name."
Dutt was convicted last November on a charge of illegally possessing three automatic rifles and a pistol, but acquitted of more serious terrorism charges relating to the bombings.
There had been speculation that Dutt would get probation. But Judge Pramod Kode said that even though he wasn't sure Dutt possessed the guns with the intention of committing a terrorist act, merely having them "shows scant respect to the law."
"In no sense can this be said to be a minor offence," Kode said.
Dutt, who had been out on bail for the past 12 years while the trial dragged on, looked down and listened with his hands clasped behind his back as Kode read the sentence. Within minutes he had been taken into custody.
His lawyer, meanwhile, motioned for a stay so he could appeal the sentence to the supreme court.
The Mumbai blasts killed 257 people on March 12, 1993. A dozen people have been sentenced to death in the bombing trial, while 20 others face life sentences. More than 50 other people found guilty will serve between three and 14 years in jail.
Dutt was able to complete pending movie projects during bail extensions over the past year and only recently finished filming comedies like Dhamaal or "Loud Noise," and Phatafat or "Pronto."
The industry film could lose about $12 million USfor two unfinished Dutt films, Alibag and Fraud, estimated Komal Nata, who runs Film Information, a trade guide.