The Maharashtra Governor lacks power to pardon Sanjay Dutt, senior lawyer and BJP leader Mahesh Jethmalani on Saturday said criticising Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju for his "unseemly haste" move in seeking relief for the actor sentenced to 5 years jail for possessing arms during 1993 Mumbai blasts.
He said Katju has written a "wholly misconceived" letter to the Governor and others, including Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and I&B Minister Manish Tewary, members of film fraternity and office bearers of Congress, NCP and Samajwadi parties "have jumped on to his ex-Lordship's bandwagon".
He said Dutt has been convicted under the Arms Act and the Governor's power of pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution does not extend to conviction under this law.
"His ex-Lordship's (Katju's) letter to the Governor of Maharashtra, is thus wholly misconceived and his loyal band of followers must seek other avenues, if they exist at all, to secure a reprieve for Dutt. Katju would be well advised to not let his heart rule his head even if he considers its pulls to be justified," Jethmalani said in a statement.
"For their part, Kumar and Tewari, both eminent men of law, would serve the interest of the nation better if they applied their energies to upholding the law, rather than blindly seeking exoneration for a convict who by design or dim-wittedness facilitated the death of so many innocent victims on that fateful day in Mumbai", he said.
Jethmalani said it does not "befit" a retired apex court judge to express his anguish at the verdict of the top court by saying that he (Katju) himself was impelled to file a mercy petition in his personal capacity on actor's behalf.
"It ill befits a retired Judge of the SC and Chairman of PCI, to display such unseemly haste in seeking complete exoneration for Dutt in the 1993 bomb blast case.
"Hardly has the ink dried on the Supreme Court's judgement upholding the actor's conviction under the Arms Act that the ex-Judge has lamented the decision, extolled Sanjay Dutt's virtues and regretted his suffering of the last twenty years," he said.
Jethmalani expressed surprise that both Kumar and Tewary have endorsed Justice Katju's view that the Governor has the power to pardon Dutt for the offences for which he has been convicted.
"While it is the personal prerogative of any citizen of this country to campaign for a pardon for any convict - notwithstanding the dubious company the convict might have kept, both before and after the cataclysmic events that had shaken Bombay on 12th March, 1993, citizens are entitled to expect a modicum of elementary homework at least by such distinguished personalities as Messrs. Katju, Ashwini Kumar and Manish Tiwari.
"The executive power of the state government does not extend to matters enumerated in the Union list of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution of India. Entry 5 in the Union List consists of arms, firearms, ammunition and explosives. The Arms Act is a statute enacted by Parliament. The Governor's power of pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution of India, accordingly, does not extend to the sentence of any person convicted under the Arms Act," he said.
Hazare not in favour of pardoning Sanjay Dutt
Even as the chorus for clemency for actor Sanjay Dutt grew louder, social activist Anna Hazare today disapproved of the demand to pardon him in a case related to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
"The judiciary has given its verdict. It is not proper to interfere with the court judgement," he told reporters here when asked to comment on the pleadings from various quarters and the Bollywood for Dutt's pardon.
On March 21, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the 53-year-old actor under the Arms Act and sentenced him to jail for five years.
The veteran Gandhian, however, maintained that "those who love him have the right to seek pardon for him."
Besides Press Council of India chief Markandey Katju, a former Supreme Court Judge, some prominent personalties of Bollywood have sought pardon for the filmstar.
Priya Dutt defends Sanjay, says he has undergone 20 years of tension and anxiety
Congress MP Priya Dutt today said that their family would explore all the options to seek clemency for her actor-brother Sanjay Dutt.
"As a sister, as a family...we will always stand by him (Sanjay). That is what any loving family will do. It is only logical that as a family we will explore every option," Priya said in a press statement issued here.
"If the purpose of incarceration is reform and punishment for crime committed, then I believe he has undergone both," she added.
Stating that the Dutt family has accepted the Supreme Court judgement, Priya said, "We stand strong together in this trying time to give each other strength and courage."
"A 20-year ordeal has finally come to an end. Twenty years is a lifetime for most people. In Sanjay's case this has been a lifetime of tension and anxiety...a lifetime of repentance and reform...a lifetime of punishment and trial," she said.
She thanked the media and the film industry for their support. "For Sanjay, versions of verdicts have been passed on him throughout these years. He has been judged by all during these 20 years and sometimes in the most harsh ways," she said.
"Yet, he has stood strong and firm, normalised his life, served the society, helped and stood by his colleagues, friends and family and is today one of the most dependable people in the film fraternity," Priya added.
Sanjay got away lightly, says RSS; questions hue and cry
RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya today criticised the "hue and cry" about the jail sentence to actor Sanjay Dutt under the Arms Act in the 1993 Mumbai terror blast case and said he actually got away with a light punishment.
"On the one hand there are family members of the victims who are looking for lines in the verdict that would cool their anger which has been simmering for the last two decades.
"...On the other hand are those who are crying for the star... that he has two small kids and hundreds of crores are at stake in Bollywood," Panchjanya says in the editorial of its edition that hit the stands today.
It urges that the "shameless" mulling on this issue should now end. The piece points out that hundreds of children became lost their fathers and the future of thousands of families were put at stake due to the Mumbai blasts yet there are those who continue to bat for Dutt.
"I am not an advocate but I can tell how much justice is there in this verdict.... But Sanju (Dutt) it is clearly visible that you got away lightly," says the edit writer.
The article states that those involved in the conspiracy to attack the financial capital of the country have got concessions. They got an opportunity to put up their case through strong lawyers for the last twenty years.
It says Dutt is lucky that he lives in India.
Panchjanya insists that the case against Dutt is not just of keeping an unlicensed country made gun but three automatic AK-56 rifles from Dawood Ibrahim's men.
"The explosives which terrorised Mumbai were hidden in his house. Had a common man played this role would the same leniency been expected for him? Is it a minor thing that despite this he got relief from TADA?" the editorial said.
Mohanlal for showing leniency to Dutt
Malayalam superstar Mohanlal today extended his support to Sanjay Dutt following Supreme Court's verdict against the Bollywood actor in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.
Expressing his support for Dutt on his Facebook post, Mohanlal wrote that his colleague and friend Sanjay had been a reformed citizen over the last 20 years.
"Dutt is a good citizen, a loving family man and a person who has braved adversities to come out stronger and better," Mohanlal said.
"He certainly deserves our compassion and help to put this chapter behind him once and for all. I sincerely hope and pray that he is shown the leniency he truly deserves and is granted a pardon," Mohanlal said.
The Supreme Court had upheld Dutt's conviction in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case for illegal arms possession but reduced to five years the six year jail term awarded to him by a designated TADA court in 2006. Dutt has already served 18 months in jail.
Rajinikanth bats for Sanjay Dutt
Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict on actor Sanjay Dutt in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, superstar Rajinikanth Friday said he is "disturbed" and will pray to god on his behalf.
"I was very disturbed when I heard about my friend and a lovely person Sanjay Dutt's verdict. The current support and appeal for his pardon is giving me hope. I pray to god that he gets remedy," Rajinikanth said in a statement.
Sanjay and Rajinikanth recently met when the former was in the city for the shooting of his upcoming film "Policegiri".
On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld Sanjay's conviction under the Arms Act for illegally possessing weapons, and sent him to five years' imprisonment.
The 53-year-old has already spent 18 months in jail. He was convicted by the TADA court for illegal possession of a 9 mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle.
Following the verdict, several members of the film fraternity expressed their sadness over the news. Justice Katju Thursday appealed to Maharashtra Governor K. Sankarnarayanan to pardon the actor.
Sanjay Dutt deserves freedom, says Tusshar
Tusshar Kapoor, who worked with Sanjay Dutt in 'Shootout at Lokhandwala' is upset with the apex court verdict against the senior actor in the 1993 blasts case.
On Thursday, SC ordered Dutt to serve three-and-a-half years sentence as it reduced to five years the six-year jail term awarded to him by a designated TADA court in 2006. The 53-year-old has already spent 18 months behind the bars.
"I feel saddened about what happened. I don't know what is right and wrong as we don't know the exact information legally. Mr Dutt has strength. His family has faced a lot of things but he has always come out of it and I hope it happens this time as well. He has a survival instinct," Tusshar told reporters here at an event.
"I am not in a position (to comment on law) and don't know the law. I feel bad...everyone deserves freedom and he has that right too," he said reacting to the sentence.
Dutt was convicted by the TADA court for illegal possession of a AK- 56 rifle and a 9-mm pistol, which was part of the consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for the co-ordinated Mumbai serial blasts on March 12, 1993.
MP Jaya Bachchan to meet Maharashtra Governor for Dutt's pardon
Actor-turned MP Jaya Bachchan on Friday said she would meet the Maharashtra Governor to take up the issue of pardoning Sanjay Dutt who has been given a five year sentence by the Supreme Court under the Arms Act in the Mumbai blasts case.
"He (Dutt) has already been punished enough. Twenty years is almost like life imprisonment. I mean he suffered for twenty years and I think to do this to him at this time. I am going to personally meet the Governor," Bachchan told reporters outside Parliament House. Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju had yesterday appealed to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan to pardon Dutt. Dutt received support from some Congress leaders, including ministers, as well as some political parties.
Batting for Dutt, actor-cum-Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi said the "Supreme Court has given a final verdict. You have to respect it but at the same time being a friend of Sanjay Dutt, I will definitely see that he should get the mercy of the Governor and other people. Once he gets the mercy, nothing like that."