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Pardon debate is erroneous

It is surprising that a debate has built up around the issue of granting pardon to actor Sanjay Dutt, who has been sentenced to five years in prison in connection with his role in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai that killed 257 people and injured 713 others. This is a wholly unnecessary debate that smacks of favouritism for one of the popular sons of Bollywood, whose on-screen avatar of the do-gooder neo-Gandhian ‘Munnabhai’ has now overtaken his earlier persona of the ‘Khalnayak.’ Nevertheless, with the Supreme Court having found him culpable of crime, there is little question of him being granted a pardon, especially because there are no extraordinary circumstances that would deem that necessary. Although, the Supreme Court has upheld Dutt’s conviction under the Arms Act for possession of an AK-56 before the blasts, yet, responsible persons like retired Justice Markandey Katju and others have spoken out in his favour, suggesting ‘humanitarian grounds’ for a pardon for him.
 
Dutt belongs to a popular and well-known Bollywood family, with his parents having connections with a leading political party. But these are certainly not the grounds on which the considered judgement of the SC should be overturned. There is a tendency of the rich and the popular to flout the law under the belief that they can get away with it, seen in the numerous hit and run cases in which the powerful are involved where witnesses suddenly turn hostile. Granting a pardon to Dutt will send an erroneous message to the public that some are above the law. Being famous and well-connected does not give a person the licence to regard law with impunity. To grant a pardon to Dutt would be legally wrong, and the actor himself has not sought it. The SC, in the landmark judgment in case of ‘Sudhakar vs the state of AP’, had clearly held that the only ground on which a pardon plea can be considered is that of public good. Besides, when the law has not shown mercy towards the 71-year-old blast convict Zaibunnisa Kazi, there is little public welfare to be served by a pardon to Dutt, which would be only of individual benefit. Amnesty should be shown towards all without bias, hence this issue should not waste public time.
MPost

MPost

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