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Has Sanju Baba Done His Time?

Why Sanjay Dutt’s conviction while following the letter of law goes against the spirit of justice.

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Sanjay-Dutt

The debate over Sanjay Dutt’s jail term has been hot and loud, as most debates in our country tend to be. A lot of it has revolved around former Supreme Court justice Markandey Katju’s letter seeking pardon for Dutt.

Katju’s point, in brief, was that “the Supreme Court has not found him guilty for the 1993 bomb blasts, but only found him guilty of having in his possession a prohibited weapon without licence”. He thought there were extenuating circumstances, which he listed as follows:

a. The event happened 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.

b. Sanjay Dutt has already undergone 18 months in jail.

c. Sanjay Dutt has got married and the couple has two small children.

d. He has not been held to be a terrorist and had no hand in the bomb blasts.

He went on to mention Sanjay’s parents Sunil and Nargis Dutt, and the work that Sanjay has done in the film, Munnabhai MBBS. It was these last two points that were picked up, and talked disparagingly of. The substantial points remain unchallenged.

I wholeheartedly support Justice Katju’s views on this and regard them to be entirely logical, factual and correct. Moreover, I agree with Justice Katju that others whose cases may merit calls for pardon should also find support.

My reasons are as follows.

The first point is basic. Why do jails exist? And why does society send some of its members to jail? It is because some individuals are considered a threat to society. If rapists and killers walk around freely, there is a danger to all of us, so society solves the problem by locking them up. This is the main purpose of sending anyone to jail. In Sanjay Dutt’s case, it is clear that he is not a threat to society. Dutt has been leading a life as a law-abiding citizen for 20 years now. So, the most basic reason to jail him does not exist. 

A second reason to jail someone is to punish them for their crime. Dutt has already been punished with one-and-a-half years in jail. The argument now is whether this was enough. I would argue that it was. This is because the punishment is not an end in itself. 

Punishment by jailing is meant to reform the criminal. In Sanjay’s case, that has already happened. He has already turned his life around. He is already reformed. At this time, there is no need to send him to jail for reformation.

Last, punishment of those who commit crimes, acts as deterrence to others. I have a simple question for those who think 18 months in jail is not enough: would any of them like to spend 18 months in jail? One and a half years in jail seems like quite enough deterrence to me. No person in his right mind would want to spend that long in jail.

I’ve been told that it is not enough to deter potential terrorists, which is a daft argument. Sanjay is not a terrorist. If ever he was a potential terrorist, he certainly seems to have been deterred by his experience of a year and a half in jail.

There is really no reason, anymore, to send Sanjay back to jail except out of a sense of vengeance. However, there is a great clamour that he should be sent back to jail.

The principal reasons being cited are that, first, the law should apply equally for all, and second, that Sanjay had knowledge of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts before they happened, and did not warn the police early enough to prevent them.

Of course the law should apply equally to all. Unfortunately, in our country, it does not. For example, it is commonplace for villagers in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to own unlicensed firearms. There is no hue and cry about that even though those “kattas (a locally made firearm)” probably number in lakhs, because those who own them are not famous. At the other end of the scale, there is a famous chief minister of a certain state who knew that riots were about to happen and did nothing to prevent them. He is a hero to this day. If the law applied equally to all, he would have been in prison. Similarly, certain leading lights of the Congress party should have been in prison for their role in the riots against the Sikhs in 1984. They were more directly involved and responsible for more deaths than Sanjay Dutt. 

Even in Sanjay’s case itself, the politicians who participated in the Mumbai riots that preceded and provoked the Mumbai bomb blasts got away scot-free. It is a known fact that before the Mumbai riots, Dawood Ibrahim and his D Company was not communal or terrorist in nature; it was simply a criminal gang. The change came after the Mumbai riots which followed the demolition of the Babri masjid. The role of politicians in the riots was uncovered by the Justice Srikrishna Commission of Enquiry, whose report has been gathering dust till date. How is that equal justice? Governments of all hues have come and gone, but the politicians have all protected each other. Some of those politicians implicated in the Mumbai riots also allegedly had underworld links. Journalist and author David D’Souza, writing in The Big Indian Picture, dug out this excerpt from newspaper reports from the time:

“Sanjay Dutt arrested” (Indian Express, April 20, 1993): [Chief Minister Sharad Pawar told the Maharashtra Legislative Council that] “the suspect who named Sanjay [also] revealed several other names including that of Madhukar Sarpotdar. But we have not pressed charges against all.” 

Sarpotdar, a member of the Shiv Sena, was among nine politicians named for acquiring weapons from D Company gangsters. None of them landed in jail. Were they all innocent, or were they just better at “managing” the police and witnesses?

As far as the bomb blasts are concerned, Sanjay has not been implicated at all. He was, according to the court, not a part of the blast conspiracy. He has been found guilty of keeping one 9-mm pistol and one AK 56 rifle, which was never used. Whether he knew of the impending blasts or not may remain a matter of conjecture, but there is no evidence that he knew of anything more than the guns and grenades that he is said to have seen. He was certainly stupid to have got involved with the underworld and he paid a price for that. However, links with the Mumbai underworld used to be common among builders, politicians, policemen and Bollywood stars and starlets at that time. If links with Dawood Ibrahim and his gang is the reason Sanjay should be in jail, well, the list of those who would need to accompany him there would be very long indeed.

As far as the Mumbai blasts are concerned, one group of people who did know for sure that it was planned was the Bombay Police. One of the men involved in the blasts plan, Gul Mohammed, had been arrested three days before they took place; he told the police about the plot. This much is on record. It seems they did not take Gul Mohammed seriously, because those were more innocent times. There was no Anti Terrorist cell, because there was no terrorism, and the policemen didn’t know what RDX was. 

Blaming Sanjay for not raising an alarm and preventing the blasts is therefore rather pointless. The alarm was raised, but the police could not prevent the blasts.

It may be that the letter of law dictates a term of five years for a certain crime. It has come 20 years after the event, during which time the purposes of justice have already been served. The man convicted has suffered imprisonment, been reformed, and resumed a normal life. To disturb that situation belatedly in order to follow the letter of law would go against the spirit of justice.

Law must always serve the cause of justice.

The process for grant of pardon is not out of the ambit of the legal process. It is very much a part of the process.

The fear that this will weaken deterrence is unfounded. It is axiomatic that it is not the severity of punishment, but the certainty of it, that deters crime. If every prospective lawbreaker knows he or she will be caught, he won’t commit the crime. However, if he thinks he can get away with it, he may chance it, even if the punishment is severe. 

The solution to increasing lawlessness in India is not more severe punishment for those few who do get caught. It is to make sure that everyone, high or low, who breaks the law is caught and brought to justice – in weeks, not 20 years later.

Moreover, justice must be done, and be seen to be done. This does not happen when draconian laws like Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act are used. It is being said that Dutt is lucky he was not charged under TADA. That is the wrong end of the argument, and raises larger questions. TADA was repealed by the Parliament of India because it was a lawless law and was perpetuating grave injustice, thereby giving rise to greater grievances and creating more potential terrorists.

The problem really is that the police fail to use the regular laws properly, and fall back on extreme laws like TADA, POTA, and MCOCA. This is against the spirit of the Constitution of India. Every citizen is guaranteed certain fundamental rights, of which the rights to life and personal liberty are foremost. These basic rights are violated, very often wrongly, and the processes of justice are subverted, by the indiscriminate use of extreme laws. This solves no problems in the long run. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the harshest law in India, has been in force, and the army deployed, since 1958 in the Northeast. The number of insurgent groups has only multiplied as a result. Where there were only 3-4 groups, now there are 30-40. 

The rise of terrorism and insurgency in mainland India coincides with the rise of politics of religion in India. From the days of MA Jinnah to now, such politics – whether practised by Muslim or Hindu leaders – has always been against the interests of the Indian nation.

The muscular nationalism that accompanies the politics of religion always tilts towards “strong measures”. It is precisely those “strong measures” that brought religious terrorism to India, and increased it where it already existed. 

What is required to combat terrorism is not “strong measures” but wisdom, intelligence and compassion.

The writer is author of The Urban Jungle (Penguin, 2011). Views expressed here are personal.

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  • BhootNaath

    Samrat suffers from a sort of Stockholm Syndrome: the kidnapped suffers from sympathy toward the kidnapper because the kidnapped feels that the absence of abuse is the same as kindness. Clearly a 90-percenter.

  • bichhoriya

    Please don’t write on subjects you don’t understand. You missed on most important reason of all, justice to victim’s family.
    Its not for society only, 200+ dead, their families need this justice for their ongoing suffering for last 20 yrs. no one talks about their pain while waiting for justice.

  • Roark

    I liked the way in which you put your arguments…though I can’t agree with the contention that he should be pardoned….The reason is…..

    If these “celeb supporters”(who will charge unaffordable amount for supporting a good cause) are really worried about the grave injustice done to criminals for whatsoever reasons…..than this is the most “inappropriate” case to stir up the debate….Either it should have been done long way back…or wait for a “genuine” case of a common man where he could be pardoned for his crime and instead of few celebrities taking up the cause…the whole nation stands behind him/her…..and I say this because if this man is pardoned even after a verdict from SC…then it will send a completely wrong message to the common citizens of this country….It simply will insinuate that the mighty and powerful can get away with a crime because they have connections (which already is a popular perception)…..and also it will shake a common man’s faith in the equality of the judicial system of the largest democracy in the world…

  • Bakkar Thach

    I doubt if you’ve ever been a crime reporter. I agree with the spirit of what you say, Sanju’s served his time, paid his dues. But you’ve mixed in so many issues here you’ve weakened your own plot.

    1) The point is, all of this should have been done 20 years ago. Sanju has’t turned his life around. He’s done nothing of the sort. The only thing he’s done is not buy guns from terrorists, and has played cops instead of robbers. He lived a privileged life before, and has just gone back to it. He has’t become some philanthropist and given his ferrari away. Of course, he’s undergone emotional trauma, and of course, he’s (probably) kicked the drug habit, but that doesn’t constitute turning your life around. That being said, this is the only real arguement to let him go… and it’s actually good enough. Katju is Katju, he knows the law. I’m not sure you do.

    2) The law is, unfortunately, the law. If you start saying, “sanju’s served his time because he’s suffered,” you should apply that to hundreds and thousands of prisoners in the country. Fortunately, courts do, and I hope that it does here too.

    3) That he did’t have a hand in the blasts isn’t really true. True, he wasn’t involved. But he did provide the accused with money, which in fact, they did use. I’m not sure the victims’ families will agree with you. He was an idiot, he wasn’t a bad person, of course. And one can argue that he had no criminal intent (which is, i suspect, what happened). That is the point, that he had no criminal intent. The guy bought an AK. Where do you think they come from? Not from bihar! Which brings me to the next point.

    4) Kattas and bihar. Have you ever seen a katta? Or seen where they’re made? In a tiny, abandoned, pre-independance, arms factory in Bihar. They’re used by local thugs, not terrorists. AKs on the other hand, are made in Russia (unless they’re cheap copies). THey have to be smuggled in through the border. Which should make any half assed brain think….. no? he’s fricking sanjay dutt. He could easily have applied for, and got, an arms licence for a .22, a 12bore, a 9mm and a pea-shooter. But he wanted a 56. Not even the 47, but the 56.

    5) To say that sanju shouldn’t be prosecuted cos the cops already knew is stupid. Sanju didn’t know the cops knew and didn’t take it seriously. If you had information about a terrorist strike, and you didn’t do anything about it, you would be culpable. What should actually happen is that the cops themselves should be prosecuted. As a citizen, it’s your resposibility to save the lives of other human beings if you even have the inkling that their lives are in danger. Think about it this way, the cops arrest a dude who tells them about an upcoming strike. They laugh. They go to bed. Sanju calls the commissioner and says, “Look, i just bought an AK. I did it cos i was just being cool, but while doing so, i found out that somebody’s going to attack Mumbai.” Wouldn’t that have forced the cops into some sort of action, at least?

    6) This really has nothing to do with AFSPA. I get that it’s cool to mention AFSPA, but its not really connected. Stick to your point! :)

  • Ashok Jahnavi Prasad

    It perhaps would be dangerously unfashionable to say so ,but I do tend to agree partly with Samrat. Custodial sentence in my view should be used sparingly only when there is legitimate concern that the person could be a menace to the society in the future and has not shown any propensity for reform. Admittedly this would open a can of worms as we would not deny that dispensation of justice is uneven in India ( as in so many other countries) .Let us try to address this rather than penalize those who tend to use their means to gain better access to justice if the means acquired are legit and honest. After all why begrudge Sanjay for utilizing the services of Maneshinde ,a lawyer who if the rumours are to be believed charges about 9 lacs per hearing-which would make him inaccessible to someone like myself. Easy availability of justice is something we should be aiming towards as the present system is dangerously skewered. I concur that there are many in custody who deserve pardon,commutation or a suspended sentence. And we should have a system to ensure that. Keeping someone in custody without ensuring his /her potential to reform in my view defeats the system of justice -and John Rawls was very clear on that!.I would tend to go with the Supreme Court finding that Sanjay did not have a role in the blasts. And let us not forget that in all wisdom our Constitution framers did retain this provision of pardon,commutation or a suspended sentence. If we are to accept this as a Constitutional provision ,then I suspect the cases that are going to seek this benefit are going to be very like Sanjay’s-those who have been to the Supreme Court and not had any relief. I recall the famous Shamim Rahmani case where a young university student brutally killed a distinguished physician in Lucknow. After the rejection of her appeal by the SC,the Governor of UP granted her total commutation after less than two years on the grounds that humanitarian considerations demanded that. I am not sure if out and out pardon should be granted here but there are other provisions like suspended sentence as was granted to the Chappaquidick convict Senator Edward Kennedy or part commutation can be considered. I should also like to point out that the only democratic country that tried doing away with the constitutional provision of a pardon was France-and they had to restore it 7 years later. The question is not whether the constitutional provision is valid-it clearly is! Perhaps we need more succint guidelines as to who can take advantage and whether the state itself can make it easily and economically available for all those who are currently deprived!

  • Qwerty

    Samrat. Next time someone aims an assault rifle at you provided by the underworld intent on wreaking havoc in a city and taking the lives of innocents. And if that assualt rifle was stored in the house of a person like Sanjay I suggest that you try a little ” wisdom, intelligence and compassion” with the person. OK ? Strewth !! People like you really do exist?
    I have a suggestion. Let us abolish criminal courts and jails. Imagine the money we would save !!!! Let us also try “wisdom, intelligence and compassion” with the Delhi rapists to name just one case.

  • mosurh

    The judge is not a idiot. PLEASE PLEASE All Tom,Dick,Harry dont think you are above the judge. Once you start questioning the justice system its end of law and order in the system. So just shut up and accept the verdict and stop making connections from past ,present who should be punished and who should not! The judge had access to more evidence than the average individual.if you are not happy please join him in jail or go to a country like Pakistan then you will know the value of justice.

  • Mallik

    The punishment for criminals is awarded also to deter anybody else from committing such crimes. He might have served 18 months in the prison but the minimum punishment in the arms act is 5 years and he is supposed to serve the rest. Most of the crime accused are married and have children. If Mr Dutt having two children is to be considered for his pardon, I’m sure almost all of the prisoners in Indian Jails can also be availed of this privilege and go scot-free.

    The judgement might have acquitted him of the terror links but his statement “muslim blood runs through my veins” is implying otherwise. I would think that the prosecution was not strong enough in making terror charges and he is acquitted thereby.

  • PK

    Reformed…..he was still in contact with underworld in late 2007, records of which are availabe with police

  • Paroma_Das

    Dear Samrat,

    1) You have written, “why does society send some of its members to jail? It is because some individuals are considered a threat to society.” However, is that the ONLY reason? Isn’t another reason, the society’s requirement of forewarning ALL its members about the legal consequences of crime? Can we deny that EVERYONE is a potential criminal?

    2) You have written, “Dutt has already been punished with one-and-a-half years in jail. The argument now is whether this was enough. I would argue that it was.” However, isn’t the minimum (as well as the maximum) punishment ALREADY stipulated in the Indian Penal Code? Hasn’t Dutt been awarded the MINIMUM of that stipulated range? Then, what is the meaning of arguing for a LOWER than the minimum punishment?

    3) You have written, “Punishment by jailing is meant to reform the criminal.” However, is that the ONLY meaning? Isn’t there another meaning (implication, to be precise) of forewarning POTENTIAL criminals?

    4) You have written, “I have a simple question for those who think 18 months in jail is not enough: would any of them like to spend 18 months in jail?” Well, I (for one) would not like to spend even 1 SECOND in jail. But, does everyone share my likes and dislikes? Can’t there be people in this world who would not mind spending a LIFETIME in jail, given a chance to kill / rob / rape others?

    5) You have written, “No person in his right mind would want to spend that long in jail.” Do you think a terrorist or his accomplice is a ‘ person in his right mind’? If not, why do you think that he would NOT ‘want to spend that long in jail’?

    6) You have written, “Sanjay is not a terrorist. If ever he was a potential terrorist, he certainly seems to have been deterred by his experience of a year and a half in jail.” Even if you think that Sanjay never had the potential to be a terrorist, do you think that NOBODY else has the potential to be so in the future? If you agree that somebody else MIGHT have such a
    potential, can you still assert that it is wrong for the state to forewarn him / her?

    7) You have written, “the law should apply equally to all. Unfortunately, in our country, it does not.” Just because all law-breakers are not punished, does it mean that NO law-breaker should be punished?

    8) You have written, “there is a famous chief minister of a certain state who knew that riots were about to happen and did nothing to prevent them.” As there are MANY Chief Ministers who might have known ‘that riots were about to happen’ but did ‘nothing to prevent’ them, why don’t you simply name your target? When you hint that he “is a hero to this day”, can I pretend not to get your hint and ask if your target is Tarun Gogoi / Prithviraj Chavan / Naveen Patnaik / Akhilesh Yadav? After all, these gentlemen satisfy ALL your criteria – (i) each is a ‘famous’ Chief Minister, (ii) there have been riots, either widespread or localised, under the watch of each, (iii) each is ‘a hero’ to some group or the other, (iv) the present tense ‘is’ and the male pronoun ‘he’ are applicable to each!

    9) About the politicians, you have written, “They were more directly involved and responsible for more deaths than Sanjay Dutt.” Just because the police could not arrest ‘Bunty Chor’ Devinder Singh till 27 Jan ’13, does it mean that they should not have arrested any OTHER thief till that day? After all, he was ‘more directly involved and responsible for more’ thefts than other thieves.

    10) You have written, “the politicians who participated in the Mumbai riots that preceded and provoked the Mumbai bomb blasts got away scot-free.” While it is correct that the riots ‘preceded’ the blasts, is it appropriate to say that the former ‘provoked’ the latter? Won’t this be considered a JUSTIFICATION, even if unwitting, of the bomb blasts? Hasn’t the ‘United Nations Security Council affirmed, in its statement dated 27 Sep ’10, that “any terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable
    regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed”?

    11) In your indirect justification of the blasts, you have written, “before the Mumbai riots, Dawood Ibrahim and his D
    Company was not communal or terrorist in nature; it was simply a criminal gang. The change came after the Mumbai riots which followed the demolition of the Babri masjid.” Well, do you think that ‘the demolition of the Babri masjid’ was the ORIGIN of communalism? Can’t that demolition be explained as a Hindutva REACTION to government actions which aimed at Hindu fragmentation (by the deepening of caste consciousness through the introduction of caste-based reservations for Other Backward Castes as had been recommended by an almost forgotten Mandal Commission) and at Muslim appeasement (by the deepening of the Islamic identity through the nullification of the secular verdict by the Supreme Court’s in the Shah Bano case)?

    12) You have written, “The role of politicians in the riots was uncovered by the Justice Srikrishna Commission of Enquiry, whose report has been gathering dust till date.” Just as the ‘role of politicians in the riots was uncovered by the Justice Srikrishna Commission of Enquiry’, hasn’t the role of Sanjay Dutt in the instant case been ESTABLISHED by the Supreme Court of India? Just because the Commission’s report ‘has been gathering dust’, does it mean that the Court’s verdict should ALSO meet the same fate? Moreover, isn’t a communal riot generally a spontaneous outburst while a serial blast
    is a CONSPIRATORIAL one? Isn’t a serial blast a more PLANNED attack than a communal riot?

    13) You have written, “politicians have all protected each other.” Then, wouldn’t the same politicians have protected each other’s SON? While arguing for the pardon of Sanjay Dutt, have you forgotten that his father was ALSO a politician (that too of the ruling party)?

    14) You have written, “Sarpotdar, a member of the Shiv Sena, was among nine politicians named for acquiring weapons from D Company gangsters. None of them landed in jail. Were they all innocent, or were they just better at “managing” the police and witnesses?” If politicians, (including Sarpotdar who was a member of an opposition party) succeeded in ‘managing’ the police and witnesses, as you are suggesting, how is it that Sunil Dutt (who was a member of the RULING
    party) could not do the same for his only son?

    15) You have written, “He has been found guilty of keeping one 9-mm pistol and one AK 56 rifle”. However, vide Page 6 of the Supreme Court’s judgment on Criminal Appeal No. 1060 of 2007, he has been found guilty of possessing “3 AK-56 rifles and its ammunition, one 9mm pistol and its cartridges and handgrenades”. On Page 32 of the judgment ibid, the Court has noted that the aforementioned weaponry was apart from “three licensed firearms” which he already had. Not only that, readers might also like to note that Sanjay’s house, (being the residence of three-time Member of Parliament Sunil Dutt) had round-the-clock protection of armed police.

    16) You have written, “Whether he knew of the impending blasts or not may remain a matter of conjecture, but there is no evidence that he knew of anything more than the guns and grenades that he is said to have seen.” Are you trying to say that, after seeing ‘the guns and grenades’, he thought they were for film shootings?

    17) You have written, “If links with Dawood Ibrahim and his gang is the reason Sanjay should be in jail, well, the list of those who would need to accompany him there would be very long indeed.” WHAT makes you think that the reason for Sanjay’s jail is the usual Bollywood ‘links with Dawood Ibrahim and his gang’? If you really want to know the reason, why don’t you READ the Supreme Court’s judgment?

    18) You have written, “Blaming Sanjay for not raising an alarm and preventing the blasts is therefore rather pointless. The alarm was raised, but the police could not prevent the blasts.” Just because the police ignored an ‘alarm’ raised by some common criminal, does it mean that they would have ignored ANOTHER ‘alarm’ had it been raised by a popular film-star and son of the local parliamentarian (who had been a popular film-star himself)?

    19) You have written, “the purposes of justice have already been served.” How can any purpose have been already served when the convict has not undergone even the MINIMUM penalty till date? Had any purpose really been served, wouldn’t it have made the stipulated minimum MEANINGLESS?

    20) You have written, “The man convicted has suffered imprisonment, been reformed, and resumed a normal life. To disturb that situation belatedly in order to follow the letter of law would go against the spirit of justice.” What you dismiss as a ‘belated’ disturbance of normal life is what I consider a belated RESTORATION of the rule of law. While you feel that following ‘the letter of law would go against the spirit of justice’, I feel that NOT following the letter of law would go against the spirit of justice (at least, in this case).

    21) You have written, “If every prospective lawbreaker knows he or she will be caught, he (sic) won’t commit the crime.”
    If every prospective lawbreaker also knows that, after being caught s/he would not have to suffer even the minimum punishment, will s/he STILL not commit the crime?

    22) You have written, “The solution to increasing lawlessness in India is not more severe punishment for those few who do get caught. It is to make sure that everyone, high or low, who breaks the law is caught and brought to justice – in weeks, not 20 years later.” Firstly, is the ‘solution to increasing lawlessness in India’ ensuring LESS than the minimum punishment for those few who do get caught? Secondly, in case some law-breaker does not get caught, do you mean that other law-breakers should not BE caught? Thirdly, if justice is not delivered ‘in weeks’, do you mean that the accused should be acquitted?

    23) You have written, “TADA was repealed by the Parliament of India because it was a lawless law”. However, hadn’t that act been earlier PASSED by the Parliament of India? Just as the repeal of TADA was a parliamentary step, wasn’t the passage of TADA also a parliamentary step? On the other hand, if the passage of TADA was only politics, wasn’t the repeal of TADA also politics?

    24) You have written, “The problem really is that the police fail to use the regular laws properly, and fall back on extreme laws like TADA, POTA, and MCOCA.” Isn’t the Arms Act 1959 (under which Dutt has been convicted) one of those ‘regular laws’? When Dutt has NOT been convicted under any of the ‘extreme laws’, why are you bringing them in here? Moreover, while you accuse the police of failing ‘to use the regular laws properly’, why don’t you FIND out the reason for their failure? If the old laws are adequate in the present times, shouldn’t central and state legislatures (Parliament & the Assemblies)
    CLOSE down? Isn’t the purpose of a legislature to pass new laws and amend old ones so that the executive (the civilian bureaucracy and the uniformed forces) are legally ENABLED to meet the changing challenges of the times?

    25) You have written, “Every citizen is guaranteed certain fundamental rights, of which the rights to life and personal liberty are foremost.” Were the 257 dead and 713 injured not CITIZENS? Didn’t they have any ‘rights to life and personal liberty’? Had Sanjay Dutt raised a timely alarm with the police, given his father’s socio-economic status, isn’t it possible that the police might have protected at least SOME of those who are now dead or injured?

    26) You have written, “The muscular nationalism that accompanies the politics of religion always tilts towards ‘strong measures’.” If you criticise the Arms Act, 1959 as a ‘strong measure’ due to ‘muscular nationalism’ and religious politics, will you please write about a SOFT measure which is untainted by nationalism or religion?

    27) You have written, “It is precisely those ‘strong measures’ that brought religious terrorism to India”. Isn’t this putting the cart before the horse? Wasn’t it DUE to religious terrorism that those ‘strong measures’ like TADA / UAPA had to be enacted?

    28) You have written, “What is required to combat terrorism is not “strong measures” but wisdom, intelligence and compassion.” Are you sure that those who had enacted the ‘strong measures’ were devoid of wisdom and intelligence?

    • http://twitter.com/ankankr Ankan

      This is a very comprehensive frisking of the original article. There are so many gaping holes in the original article, you have driven multiple trucks through them! Great job :)

      Dear Newslaundry team, I think you should consider publishing this take-down on the main website as well, and not just as a comment.

    • Parvatham Ramswami

      Lovely point-by-point riposte to a munnabhai-type article. Well done. Newslaundry should publish this as a counterpoint to the original article.

    • Ashok Jahnavi Prasad

      While I completely agree with many of your rejoinders, Paroma,I must admit I do have concerns about some. But that is not the point here and perhaps we can debate that later. I personally do not agree with many of the reasons Samrat has advocated for pardon. However even if we were ,for arguments sake, accept every contention of yours, it still does not obscure one vital fact-that the Constitution has made a provision for pardon/commutation/suspended sentence. Even accepting that Sanjay has been granted the very minimum of sentence prescribed under the Arms Act, the established principle of jurisprudence dictates that Constitutional dictates always take precedence over any accepted statute (be it IPC,Arms Act,TADA etc etc). There are several Supreme Court rulings on this that I can cite. If in its wisdom the executive and legislature feel that this caveat if frivolous and perhaps open to arbitrariness and abuse , by all means they can effect a Constitutional change and enact it. But they have chosen not to do so.And as I stated in my earlier comment, the only democratic country that tried to do away with a constitutional provision of this nature (which incidentally exists in all democracies) was France-and they thought it wise to re-introduce it 7 years later. I can only surmise that the underlying philosophy behind such a provision is that the constraints of judicial sentencing can at times not be in total sync with the need for commensurate justice . As we do have this provision, perhaps the healthier approach would be to try and crystallize the parameters which can define the appositeness of any particular case that may be presented for this advantage. And here we have to ruefully admit that in the absence of Supreme Court guidelines there is a lot of confusion that has to be resolved. Different Supreme Court rulings have churned up seemingly different guidelines. But one thing is clear-any case that is likely to be put up for this dispensation is hardly likely to be any better than Sanjay’s as the possibility of mitigating factors being identified by the respective courts through the lengthy legal rigmarole would be really high. Also I have to admit that the cases being dealt with unaffordable lawyers unfortunately would have a greater chance of being successful -and this point would need to be addressed. But if the precedents are any guide, I can only state that if Shamim Rahmani could be bestowed this advantage, why not Sanjay! And let us also recognize that while Sanjay may have tried to extract advantage through expensive lawyers he could afford ( for which it would be churlish to begrudge him) ,his commitment to the legal process was complete. He visited abroad on several occasions while on bail. While this does not call for rewarding him,let us also remember the several high and mighty who have conned the judiciary and are absconders from justice-and the country has not been able to do anything about them!

      • BhootNaath

        What utter crap! This chap really thinks the rest of us are fools. He
        seems to live within his own mind and clearly loves the sound of his own
        voice.

        The above post is a classic example of hiding behind
        obscure verbiage and obscure facts while really believing that to be the
        definition of knowledge. The worth of one’s knowledge is judged by
        the intent of its application. Moriarty vs. Sherlock Holmes. The
        above post is intended to prove one point alone: “I can steamroll you
        with my verbal diarrhea while really believing that you really believe
        that I really believe you are my equal”.

        Dutt was found guilty of
        a crime and convicted. Whatever the faults of the Indian criminal
        justice system, justice must remain blind. The more high profile a
        criminal the more imperative it is for us to uphold the law of the
        land. Otherwise it will be a mockery of crucial democratic institutions
        and a travesty. Instead of highlighting that “several high and mighty
        who have conned the judiciary and are absconders from justice-and the
        country has not been able to do anything about them” it would have been
        better if the poster had chosen to say “Dutt must serve his time in full
        so that we can use that as an example to bring the other high and
        mighty absconders back within the ambit of the law”.

        • madhukar nikam

          Dutt must serve his time in full so that we can use that as an example to bring the other high and
          mighty absconders back within the ambit of the law”……………..entirely agree!!

        • Shridhar Sharma

          It certainly would be more desirable for Newslaundry if the policy of ‘no personal comments’ was adhered to . The comment here is deeply unfortunate and seems to have been posted solely for the intention of being personally abusive. And in doing so ,this particular gentleman displays his own proclivities and the extent of his ability to maintain a healthy debate. Not once have either Samrat or Dr.Prasad mentioned a word about the fairness of the judicial system. The only issue to be debated here is given that the Constitution allows a provision as has been stated ,and taking into account the past precedents, whether Sanjay qualifies for it.The point has of course been made redundant as Sanjay himself has stated that he shall not apply for a pardon. If the person who wrote the comment feels that this constitutional provision needs to be done away with,by all means the legislature can be persuaded to enact a constitutional change.But until that happens ,this facility exists. And that is exactly the point made by the original comment -that we need clear guidelines as to who shall be worthy of this. If Shameem Rahmani’s case is obscure to him then the logical solution would be for him to read it up before making the unworthy remarks that he does. I am myself uneasy about Sanjay getting any reprieve as it would appear that he would do so because he can afford good lawyers. But that is the fault of the system rather than Sanjay. Maybe a system could be instituted whereby a person can be assessed objectively about fitness for reprieve in this fashion-and once that happens for the person to be provided legal aid to ensure appropriate legal representation.

          • Shridhar Sharma Too

            ahahahaha!!! “dr” parasad and shridhar sharma seem to be the same guy!!!! lol! look at the same same writing! same one mighty you-shut-up paragraph, same punctuation with commas and fullstops not following space conventions, same calling dutt-chor “sanjay”! haha! did u give urslf upvote also?? anything to win obscure internet debate?? :-)

          • Ashok Jahnavi Prasad

            Thanks for writing -both Mr.Sharma’s! Just one comment;the last thing you can expect me to indulge in is to ask the people here to ‘shut up’ as all my past comments would establish. That would be entirely inimical to the principle of a meaningful debate which I fully espouse. Abuses yes make me uneasy but I do not mind criticism of my positions from every quarter. And by the way,at my age , ‘winning debates’ is not a consideration. The future belongs to probably most of the people who commented including the two with similar names. My only submission here is debate as much as you can but always remember the one with a contrarian view may have a legitimate stake as well.

          • Ashok Jahnavi Prasad

            Thanks for writing -both Mr.Sharma’s! Just one comment;the last thing you can expect me to indulge in is to ask the people here to ‘shut up’ as all my past comments would establish. That would be entirely inimical to the principle of a meaningful debate which I fully espouse. Abuses yes make me uneasy but I do not mind criticism of my positions from every quarter. And by the way,at my age , ‘winning debates’ is not a consideration. The future belongs to probably most of the people who commented including the two with similar names. My only submission here is debate as much as you can but always remember the one with a contrarian view may have a legitimate stake as well.

          • Ashok Jahnavi Prasad

            My apologies Mr.Sharma ! My name has been somehow tagged on to your comments. I have attempted to correct the impression and hope the episode has not caused you any distress.Regards

  • manu

    The man who wrote this should join Kafila

  • madhukar nikam

    As regards to Madhukar Sarpodar , one licenced pistol & two unlicensed pistols were recovered …from his vehicle …till date no one could prove its origins……your statement as it came from D company is pure speculation and unproved till date, In Mumbai getting illegal pistol is no big deal. This case cannot be compared with that of Mr Dutt Jr …. His armoury had from AK-56 to hand grenades…………..as a ex-service person , I can safely conclude ……….the weapons Mr Jr
    Dutt was carrying were offence and meant for killing people in large numbers with medium range. In reality both cases
    were fit under arms acts with very different sentences ……………Sarpodar should have got 5 years and Jr Dutt life imprisonment

  • shaktifabian

    writing half or complete untruths and that loaded one,s seems to be order of the day for some people like this guy samrat unlike samrat who stays 3000 kms away from mumbai i am a mumbaikar and i have witnessed the riots in close quarters no where be it english or the vernacular press or television have i or my friends come across any statement made by sharad pawar about madhukar satpodar getting arms from the underworld the only so called provocative statement made by pawar during that period was when 2 innocent mathadis workers sleeping in their transport company,s godown in mazagaon dongri by muslim goons pawar openly condemed this brutal killing and blamed the muslim goons for the incident which instigated the riots on january 7th 1993 and as far as sanju baba is concerned sucking upto film stars by the media is old news

  • Ankit

    Generally, the quality of articles on Newslaundry is good. But this article is so badly argued, I don’t even want to get started. In fact some commentators have already deconstructed it in the comments section.

    I have a suggestion for NL team. Please refrain from publishing articles written by journalists, particularly Indian journalists, since a vast majority of them are of low intellect and are generally morally compromised. Get perspectives of real people, who have worked for a living. Commission articles from doctors, engineers, professors, lawyers, mechanics, farmers. You know, people who have to make something, or help someone, in order to earn a living. Such articles will give us a much broader perspective.

    Please think about it.

  • Ashok Jahnavi Prasad
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