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The Supreme Court has cleared the decks for release of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, his friend Yusuf Mohsin Nulwalla and 15 others when it granted bail to 17 out of 25 petitioners in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal also admitted the appeals of 25 convicts in the serial blasts in which over 250 lives were lost on March 12, 1993 when Mumbai was rocked by a series of bomb explosions.

Those granted bail are Sanjay Dutt, Yusuf Mohsin Nulwalla, Zaibunisha Anwar Kazi, Sameer Hingora, Yusuf Khan, Somnath K Thappa, a custom officer suffering from lung cancer, Aziz Ahmed, Mohammed Ahmed Shaikh, Mubina, Liyakat Ali Habib Khan, Shah Nawaz Khan, Mohd Rafiq, Mohd Dawood Mohd Yusuf Khan, Shaikh Asif Yusuf, Mohd Yunus, Gulam Rasool, Botomiya, Ibrahim Musa Chauhan, Ramesh Dattatray Mali, a policeman and Ranjit Kumar Singh, a custom officer.

Earlier, senior counsel F S Nariman, appearing for Dutt, contended before the court that his client was not involved in the conspiracy at all and never tried to misuse his liberty during his stay on bail for 12-long-years.

Mr Nariman also contended that the petitioner has been given six years imprisonment by the TADA court and has already served about 18 months in jail.

According to Dutt, offence under the Arms Act was never proved beyond all reasonable doubt against him as no recoveries were effected either from him or at his behest.

The court also directed that bail orders will be e-mailed to the TADA judge and the concerned jail superintendents today itself for compliance.

Dutt is presently lodged in Yerwada Central Jail.

Four of those denied bail include lifers and one Kersi Bapuji Ada Jania has been told to surrender first before his bail application is taken up for consideration.

The apex court also directed that none of the petitioners, including Dutt, will leave the country without prior permission of the court.

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