Press Council of India Chairman retired Justice Markandey Katju tonight appealed to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan to pardon actor Sanjay Dutt, who was sentenced to five years in an arms case related to the 1993 serial Bombay blasts.
A former judge of the Supreme Court — which today brought about a near-closure to the worst terror attack faced by India and made the nation hold her head high — today has sought pardon for one of the convicts, saying the latter had “suffered a lot during the last 20 years”.
TV channels CNN-IBN and NDTV quoted a news agency report which said Press Council of India Chairman retired Justice Markandey Katju appealed to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan to pardon actor Sanjay Dutt, who was sentenced to five years in an arms case related to the 1993 serial Bombay blasts.
Reactions poured in fast and furious on the social media condemning Katju with one word echoing strongly: “Shame”.
It was unbelievably amazing to see a former judge seeking pardon for a person whose conviction had just been upheld by India’s apes court, of which he was part of once. This come even as Bollywood starting tempering down its earlier reaction in full support of convict-actor Sanjay Dutt. While producer-director Mahesh Bhatt in the afternoon was “shocked” for the poor Sanjay Dutt, in the evening he tended to see this as justice being done.
Katju has been shooting from his mouth of late and has been facing criticism for using his position as PCI chairman for making wild and fanciful comments, with his widely-condemned negative article in The Hindu newsapaper on Gujarat Chief Minister as an example of his indiscretions.
Social media also saw through the alleged blatant slant in favour of Sanjay Dutt across the channels which showed him as a victim rather than a criminal who was found guilty under India’s criminal justice system.
In talk later tonight, it was revealed that all sorts of tricks were used to try and get Sanjay discharged from the cases.
Earlier, Sanjay Dutt — notorious for his alleged links with Mumbai’s underworld — was booked under the stringent Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, which would have seen the actor going into jail for a longer period, but a trial court decided that he should be tried under the Arms Act. He was later convicted and jailed for a term of six years, which the Supreme Court, hearing the appeals, today reduced it to five years.
Sanjay Dutt has already been in jail for about 18 months and will have to spend the rest of the time in Pune’s Yerawada jail. He has up to four weeks to surrender and go to prison or pursue further legal remedies.
Former Mumbai police commissioner M N Singh CNN-IBN that Sanjay’s father, the late former MP Sunil Dutt of the Congress party, approach him several times to get his son off the hook. The police were under severe pressure from politicians to favour Sanjay Dutt.
Sunil Dutt, himself a Bollywood veteran and a powerful Congress politician, had also approached the late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray when the Sena-BJP was in government in Maharashtra to seek his “blessings” for Sanjay.
The CBI, which had taken over the case, did not go in for an appeal when the lower court decided to discharge the troubled actor from TADA charges, a move which raised many eyebrows.
The outpouring of support then and now for Sanjay, with media highlighting that more than Rs 300-400 crore would go down the drain after he goes to jail, showed the influence he enjoyed in showbiz and the media, especially the news channels.
The CBI was obviously used as a political tool to go soft on Sanjay Dutt. That India’s premier investigative agency was being manipulated shamefacedly by the Congress party-led government came in for ample amplification in the case of DMK leader M K Stalin’s case.
The DMK, an UPA ally, which had only two days back withdrawn support to the federal UPA government, found that its crown prince’s house was raided in Chennai by CBI officials for an apparent customs’ duty evasion case at the crack of dawn. The raid was called off a couple of hours later after a chorus of protests of innocence and anger by leading lights of the Congress party and government, including its chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram (read here).
Coming back to Katju, the former judge pleaded for Sanjay Dutt raising the following points (read his letter to the Maharashtra governor published on NDTV here):
- The event happen in 1993 i.e. 20 years ago. During this period Sanjay suffered a lot, and had a cloud hovering over his head throughout. He had to undergo various tribulations and indignities during this period. He had to go to Court often, he had to take the permission of the Court for foreign shootings, he could not get bank loans, etc.
- Sanjay Dutt has already undergone 18 months in jail.
- Sanjay Dutt has got married, and they have two small children.
- He has not been held to be a terrorist, and had no hand in the bomb blasts.
- His parents Sunil Dutt and Nargis worked for the good of society and the nation. Sunil Dutt and Nargis often went to border areas to give moral support to our brave jawans and did other social work for society.
- Sanjay in this period of 20 years has through his film revived the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and the message of Gandhiji, the father of the nation.
Katju’s reasons for seeking pardon for Sanjay Duut is not only laughable, but seriously shameful.
What Katju omitted is that Sanjay has been a delinquent through his early years, having been a drug addict with involvement in petty cases, most of them brushed under the carpet due to his family links with the Congress party. He was arrested in 1982 for being in possession of drugs and was in prison for five years.
The now 53-year-old Sanjay also led a troubled life during his adulthood as well: The actor was cosy with the underworld mafia with reported links right up to internationally-designated terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, a former don of the Mumbai underworld.
His also led a controversial personal life. His first marriage ended in a disaster with his wife actress Richa Sharma dying of brain tumour.
He then married model, Rhea Pillai, which ended in a divorce after a short time. Later, he married another woman, Manyata aka Dilnawaz Sheikh aka Sara Khan, in a private ceremony in Goa after dating her for two years. Manyata was reputedly married more than once and that too persons with allegedly shady reputations. Her marriage with Sanjay was also controversial as it was reportedly illegal because she had not divorced her husband then.
All in all, Sanjay was not an ideal citizen as Katju wants the people to believe.
“Sanjay suffered a lot in the last 20 years,” Katju says. Dear Katju, he continued to act in films and raked in a hell of a lot of money, got involved in affairs and then married and had two children. Is this suffering?
In Modi’s case, Katju called him a Hitler and refuses to believe that he was not involved in the 2002 riots, despite not a single conviction, but goes all out to seek pardon for convict Sanjay Dutt, a man whose reputation has always cast a shadow throughout his life.
If Katju’s logic is to be applied, then all convicts in terror and other serious criminals can be safely sent home. And what about the victims? Let them go to hell?
As a judge, Katju was admired for his fearlessness, outspokenness and his crusading spirit.
After he retired, it was a swift fall from a high pedestal. Markandey Katju, shame on you!