New Delhi: Press Council of India chairperson Markandey Katju on Thursday said he would continue to seek pardon on humanitarian grounds for actor Sanjay Dutt and Zaibunissa Kazi, who have been sentenced to five years in prison for their role in the 1993 Mumbai bombings.
Clarifying his position after Sanjay told reporters in Mumbai that he would not seek pardon and would surrender within the given timeframe, former Supreme Court Justice Katju said: "Sanjay Dutt may not appeal for pardon, but I will appeal for his pardon. I think he deserves pardon."
"He has said that he will not seek pardon but others can apply for pardon, and I'm going to apply for him. I'm preparing a letter today (Thursday) for pardon for both Sanjay and Zaibunnisa," Katju told a news channel.
He said he would seek pardon for both Sanjay, 53, and Zaibunissa Kazi, 70, on humanitarian grounds.
Zaibunnisa was a co-accused in the 1993 bomb blasts case and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment by the Supreme Court.
Katju had said two days ago that he received an e-mail from Shagufta, Zaibunnisa's daughter, appealing to him to seek pardon for her mother.
Elaborating on the reasons for his stance, Katju said, "This man (Sanjay Dutt) has suffered enough for 20 years. I will continue my efforts to get pardon for him. It is purely on humanitarian basis. Personally, I don't know the man. I'm not his fan and I don't see films. I'm not his relative or friend, but both Sanjay Dutt and Zaibunissa deserve pardon on humanitarian basis."
"Pardon can be granted on myriad grounds. Public good is one of them, it can be humanitarian and various grounds," Katju added.
Katju's reaction came soon after Sanjay Dutt, who has been convicted under the Arms Act for his role in the 1993 Mumbai bombings, said he would surrender when the time comes and would not be seeking pardon.
Speaking out for the first time since the Supreme Court handed down its verdict last week, Sanjay appealed to the media for privacy and said: "...When I am not going for pardon, there is no debate."
An emotional Sanjay, who broke down while addressing the media, said he had the highest respect for the court. "This a very, very tough time," he said. "Just let me be in peace till I go in."
He said he would be completing his work commitments.