The ballyhoo around Sanjay Dutt

The mills of justice in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case may have taken 20 years to grind and deliver a verdict, but the mills of “grind doctors” for superstar Sanjay Dutt have gone into overtime within minutes of the verdict to secure a pardon which he arguably doesn’t deserve.

Is law not same for all, irrespective of their status and position? Then, why everyone is questioning the recent Supreme Court judgment in regard to actor Sanjay Dutt? Why nobody is saying anything about death penalty to mastermind Yakub Memon in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case? Is it because Dutt is a Bollywood actor and son of two film legends- Sunil Dutt and Nargis? If this is the case, then India should have two sets of laws- one for layman and another for the rich and powerful.

Many voices of influential persons have erupted in support of pardon to Sanjay Dutt on a myriad of grounds. Be it former Supreme Court Judge and Press Council of India Chief, Justice Markandey Katju or Bollywood actor and Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan, everyone seems to be getting carried away by the screen persona of Sanjay Dutt.

“Sanjay Dutt’s parents have done social service. He himself has done some good things like promoting Gandhian philosophy in movies. He has two small children and suffered for 20 years,” Katju said.  

But is relief from the aftermath of conviction all about being a nice guy or how kind, wonderful and successful your parents and siblings are? I have great regards for the actor, but the society should see that he needs to be tried equally as is the case with other convicts.

The Dutts have long been Congress loyalists. Sunil Dutt was a Congress MP and the party nominated his wife Nargis to the Rajya Sabha. The actor’s sister, Priya Dutt is now a Congress MP. There are also allegations against Justice Katju of favoring congress led states during his reports on misuse of media in states of India. 

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Pic: Sanjay Dutt (Left) with his father Sunil Dutt (Right)

What does the common man understand from this situation? He is always swayed by one or the other statement. Why should we bend law for the rich & famous? The questions linger on.

Due to terrorist interactions, and illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 assault rifle on 19 April 1993, Sanjay was arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA). He spent 18 months in jail until he was granted bail in October 1995 by the Supreme Court of India. He was later re-arrested in December 1995 and re-released in April 1997 once again on police bail terms. In 2006, the case opened for sentencing for all accused. The period between 2006-2007 saw Dutt spend 7 months in Arthur Road Prison and Pune prison on three occasions for arms offences. Although in 2006, Dutt was finally acquitted of any TADA-related offenses but was charged under the Illegal Possession of Arms Act.

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Pic: Sanjay Dutt leaving from the Yerwada Prison, Pune 

In his first confessional statement, that he made to his father who wanted to know why he had been stashing deadly arms, Sanjay Dutt said, “Because I have Muslim blood in my veins. I could not bear what was happening in the city.” A crestfallen Sunil Dutt had then left the police headquarters.

Summing it up, I would say that the move to secure mercy for Sanjay Dutt is an act of lubrication of the law, laden with dangerous consequences. And yet, it appears that it has enough political and social momentum to sail through.

May the rule of law prevail, with equanimity.

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