The problem with Indian judiciary is that poor can’t trust it and rich don’t fear it. Rich can manipulate it as per their convenience and poor can’t afford to pay the price that the justice demands. Snail paced judiciary ensures that justice is not only delayed but often denied. Breaking this Jinx, Supreme Court has awarded 5 years jail term to Sanjay Dutt, this is the minimum term that could have been awarded under arms act.
He illegally possessed automatic rifle and apex court has already curtailed his term from 6 to 5 years. There has been huge support for pardoning the actor largely due to political stature of his family and his fan-following. Even former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju has appealed to the governor of Maharashtra to pardon Sanjay Dutt citing that he has already spent 18 months in jail and has suffered from a lot of mental trauma and social isolation and hence should not be punished any further. Likes of Amar Singh and Jaya Prada have also joined the ranks of those echoing Katju’s concerns.
I am myself a die-hard fan of Sanjay Dutt but we must detach emotions from justice. Once it has been established that Sanjay Dutt illegally possessed arms, he is a criminal and could walk free only if he is acquitted. His celebrity status should not hinder the course of justice. In fact it is time to set examples by punishing him and giving out a bold message that justice may be delayed but never denied. I have reasons to believe that influence of Sanjay Dutt has already dragged the feet of judiciary for two decade. Our judiciary staunchly believes that even if 100 guilty are acquitted, one innocent should not be punished. Benefit of doubt this time worked in Dutt’s favor when he was given clean chit in 1993 Mumbai serial blast case. We are not here to question the wisdom of honorable Supreme Court. Verdict of apex court must be honored at all cost.
1993 Mumbai blasts were attack on our country. Anyone even remotely associated with it must be brought to books and law of land must prevail. Atleast 257 died and over 700 were injured in those blasts, their family members still await justice. Though Court in its verdict has said that Dutt has no link with bomb blasts, and that the arm he possessed was meant for self-defense purpose, yet there is no denying the fact that those arms were obtained from master minds of these blasts and hence the connection is evident. Moreover those advocating that Dutt has reformed since then, must know that even after the blasts, Dutt was in touch with Chota Shakeel and others. There is a recorded evidence of his telephonic conversation on November14,2000 with Chota Shakeel available with the police. Hence Sanju baba was in touch with underworld mafias even 7 years after the blasts.
I truly believe that Justice Katju is a great scholar and has set great standards as Supreme Court Judge, but I doubt his wisdom in present case. Arms act is under union list and hence state authorities lack the executive power to interfere in these matters. Hence, governor is not the competent authority to pardon Dutt. Katju should have approached the president instead. Moreover, dozens were convicted in ’93 blast case. Why only Dutt is worthy of pardon, while there are many who committed lesser crime and hence deserve to be pardoned first? For instance Zaibunissa Anwar Kazi’s house was just used as transit for arms. She is 70 now and a 5 year jail term is herculean task for her. Shouldn’t she be pardoned first? Katju has also referred to the fact that Sanjay Dutt has revived the memories of Gandhi through his movies. Well if he did Munnabhai MBBS, he did Khalnayak and Agnipariksha as well!!!
We are not here to argue the validity of Katju’s letter to the Governor, we have a bigger issue to deal with. Should Sanjay Dutt be pardoned? I strongly believe that guilty must be punished irrespective of his stature. Several cases involving celebrities are pending in several courts for decades. This landmark judgment can set the stone rolling for may such verdicts to follow. Infamous hit and run case involving Salman Khan has been lingering since 2002. Blackbuck poaching case against Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre has been mocking at our judiciary since 1998. These cases are still in state courts for a decade and would certainly take a decade till Supreme Court stamps the deal. It’s time to give out a clear message that one can’t get away from justice. Being a celebrity doesn’t give you license to commit crimes. In fact, it gives you extra responsibility to set right examples.
While Sanjay Dutt has ruled out any possibility of applying for pardon and has assured that he would surrender by the stipulated period of 4 weeks to serve the remaining jail term. He must be fully aware that his case is not strong enough to be taken up by the president. His best chances are to surrender and hope for early termination of term on account of good behavior.
He has been a versatile actor and has entertained us a lot. We appreciate his professional competency. But he must be punished for his crimes. We will wait for him to get back and start afresh!!!
Its NOW or NEVER!!