Friday, March 22, 2013

THE CASE OF SANJAY DUTT




B.RAMAN

I have been in receipt of many tweets and E-Mails criticizing me for advocating that the case of Sanjay Dutt, who has been convicted under the Arms Act for having been found in illegal possession of two fire-arms and sentenced to five years of imprisonment, should be treated differently and any petition from him for a lenient view of his guilt should be considered sympathetically.

2.In my first tweet after his conviction by a bench of the Supreme Court, I had said that, as in the US, there is a need for a provision in our laws under which a court can allow a convicted criminal in certain cases to do compulsory community service in lieu of imprisonment to cover cases like that of Sanjay.

3.Subsequently, I had tweeted my agreement with the view of retired Justice Katju, Chairman of the Press Council of India, that Sanjay’s case deserves pardon in view of the good service to the community that he and his parents had done in the past. However, I had differed from Justice Katju in respect of the community service. I am of the view that Sanjay could be considered for pardon  not for his good service of the past, but for the community service that he promises to do in future in lieu of the imprisonment. His performance has to be closely monitored by someone designated by the Governor to ensure that he carries out his solemn commitment. If he violates his commitment, his pardon should be cancelled.

4.My views have been strongly criticized on the following grounds .Firstly, he has committed a heinous offence by accepting a gift of arms from a person allegedly connected with Mumbai’s mafia. Secondly, if any special consideration is shown to him by virtue of his celebrity status, it would be a violation of the sacred principle of equality before law. Thirdly, there are many others who are languishing in jail despite their good service to the community. When the law has not shown them any special consideration, why should it show a special consideration only to Sanjay.

5. Sanjay is a confirmed convict under the Arms Act against whom a minimum sentence of five years as provided in the Arms Act has been awarded by the Supreme Court. Taking into consideration the 18 months that Sanjay had already spent in jail during the trial, the court has ordered that he should spend another  three and a half years.

6.I  argue for a lenient view in his case on the following grounds

·      Even though Sanjay has been found guilty of illegal possession of arms, no evidence has been forthcoming to show that he was aware that these arms were part of a consignment that had been smuggled in from Pakistan for use in the Mumbai serial blasts of March 1993. If he was aware of this fact, as a law-abiding citizen, he should have immediately alerted the police and his failure to do so would have amounted to complicity in an act of terrorism. Since there is no evidence to show that he was aware of this fact, he cannot be accused of complicity in an act of terrorism.

·      No other evidence has been forthcoming to show that he was part of the conspiracy relating to the Mumbai blasts. He has not been found guilty of an act of terrorism.

·      Despite the absence of any evidence to show his involvement, he was treated as a suspect under the TADA along with the members of the conspiracy. As a result, he was not tried separately under the Arms Act, but along with the conspirators and perpetrators of the Mumbai blasts. The trial went on for 20 years. Had he been tried separately under the Arms Act and not with others, his case might have concluded a long time ago and by now he might have completed his sentence

·      His case being clubbed along with the cases against others has resulted in his having to wait for 20 years for the final judgment and he has to go to jail now after this long delay, spending another three and a half years in custody. This is unfair to him and is contrary to the principles of natural justice.

7.Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances relating to the conviction of Sanjay I had suggested that he should be treated differently and a sympathetic view should be taken if he petitions for pardon. It will not be a violation of the principle of equality before law. My views have nothing to do with his celebrity status or his family and social connections.

8. If there are others with similar facts and circumstances, their cases have to be examined in the light of those facts and circumstances without any prejudice. In my view, Sanjay had to suffer unfairly because of his case being clubbed along with the cases of the conspirators and perpetrators of the blasts in the absence of credible evidence to warrant it.

9. I will be happy to stand corrected if I have failed to consider any other relevant fact relating to him. (23-3-13)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and , presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

 

7 comments:

peter g. said...

Sir,
As someone who has knowledge of these matters, I fully agree with all that you have written and there is nothing to counter or contradict your analysis.Nor is there anything to add to what you have said.

Unknown said...

Dear Sir,

What is being missed completely by everyone is that the reason specified by him for procuring a weapon was his fears about security.

Means the state lacked the ability to provide him a secure environment in the first place, causing him to take up arms. While that act is not right, the role of the state ( or lack of ) cannot be disregarded, where a even a person at the highest level of society cannot depend on the state for providing safety.

What can common people expect in that case.

AnitaRathod said...

Sir,

When will we do some deeper introspection on the 93 Mumbai blasts?

Is it not a fact that this was done in revenge of the Babri demolition and the killings of Muslim both by mobs and police officials?

Then a repeat of this on a more harsher scale was done in Mumbai? I still remember how in one of the streets that I was in a Muslim driver was using an Ambulance to ferry women and children back and forth from the riot hit areas.

The police and shiv sena goons caught him and instead of helping him by protecting him, the police just watched while the shiv sena goons hacked him to pieces.

These bomb attacks were reprisal terror attacks for the ailure of the govt., police and the people in general to protect the minority community from these goons.

Until a process of reconciliation and acceptance of this fact happens, people will not realise the pressure Sanja Dutt and others like him were under.

quetzalcoatl said...

Dear Sir,

1. Have you read the Tehelka report from 2007 called How "The Star Escaped TADA" that hints at a deeper liaison of Dutt with Abu Salem and ilk rather than a mere juvenile misadvanture?

2. To all those people falling for the "self-defense" excuse and blaming the state... does a normal civilian illegally procure multiple AK-56s and huge stashes of ammo and grenades for mere "self-defense"? Can one person use all of them if really attacked?

3. Don't you think the courts have already been lenient by considering it as mere a mere case of illegal arms procuring and not venturing deeper into possible deadlier links as suggested in the aforementioned report? The court has already been lenient, what more do you expect?

4. Those who are talking about his long "suffering" for 20 years, wouldn't he have escaped all these and went directly to jail (and came out by now) if not for his famous and powerful father?


BRIJ RAJ SAHANI said...

Sir,

I don't agree that he has suffered more or less as compared to the other convicts.

He has been released on bail since 20 years, he got married twice and has three children, has made more than 100 films since 1993 earned riches enjoyed his life and after being found guilty of an act of carrying illegal weapons which even police didn't have.

I think its unfair on the part of the victims who have suffered the most.

Going beyond what the court has pronounced morally logically and applying basic intellect there is no one in this country who can say that Sanjay Dutt was unknowingly in contact with people who were planning for the deadliest act of terror after independence on our country.

Any nationalist or a like minded person having even an iota of doubt would have either refused to help the perpetrator or could have informed the police having kept the identity anonymous.

Knowing from a person of your intellect i have no doubts on the merits of pardon but at the same time we need to be equally answerable to our conscience and moral judgement.

BRIJ RAJ SAHANI said...

Sir,

I don't agree that he has suffered more or less as compared to the other convicts.

He has been released on bail since 20 years, he got married twice and has three children, has made more than 100 films since 1993 earned riches enjoyed his life and after being found guilty of an act of carrying illegal weapons which even police didn't have.

I think its unfair on the part of the victims who have suffered the most.

Going beyond what the court has pronounced morally logically and applying basic intellect there is no one in this country who can say that Sanjay Dutt was unknowingly in contact with people who were planning for the deadliest act of terror after independence on our country.

Any nationalist or a like minded person having even an iota of doubt would have either refused to help the perpetrator or could have informed the police having kept the identity anonymous.

Knowing from a person of your intellect i have no doubts on the merits of pardon but at the same time we need to be equally answerable to our conscience and moral judgement.

captainjohann said...

Sir,
I think you have not read the conversation between Sanjay and Salem which was monitored by then commissioner of Mumbai police which shows how much he is involved terrorism(not withdrawn by Pawar) but by next shiv sena government.