Days after Justice Markandey Katju appealed to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan to pardon actor Sanjay Dutt, the Press Council of India chairman on Wednesday said another 1993 Mumbai blasts case convict Zaibunissa Kazi also deserved pardon.
"Two days back I received an email from Shagufta, daughter of Zaibunnisa, who was a co-accused in the bomb blast case, and was convicted under section 3(3) and 6 of TADA and sentenced by the Supreme Court to 5 years imprisonment. Shagufta requested that I should appeal for pardon for her mother too, just as I had done for Sanjay Dutt," Katju wrote in his blog on Wednesday.
"I do not make appeals for pardon lightly,without carefully studying all the relevant material and without being satisfied that the case deserves pardon," he said.
Katju said he will write to President Pranab Mukherjee and Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan to pardon the 70-year-old woman.
"That is why it took me two days studying the case of Zaibunnisa, and now I have come to the firm conclusion that she deserves pardon, for which I will be soon issuing an appeal to the President of India/Governor of Maharashtra," he said.
"In my respectful opinion she should at least have been given the benefit of doubt. In these circumstances I have decided to appeal to the President of India as well as the Governor of Maharashtra (since there is a controversy who is the appropriate authority) to pardon Zaibunnisa and Sanjay Dutt," Katju wrote in his blog.
Kazi on Tuesday appealed to the Maharashtra Governor to have mercy on Zaibunissa, reports said.
She was charged under TADA or the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act for aiding and abetting a terrorist act. She was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
"I wish I was a celebrity or my mother was a celebrity or a sister of an MP. Even my mother would have got the kind of support Sanjay Dutt is getting. If it is on humanitarian grounds then why only Sanjay Dutt, why not Zaibunisa," Zaibunissa´s daughter told CNN-IBN.
Katju earlier joined several political leaders and film personalities as they voiced their support for Sanjay Dutt as the clamour for granting pardon to the Bollywood actor is growing louder since the Supreme Court sentenced him last Thursday.
The Supreme Court sentenced for five years Sanjay Dutt to jail for illegal arms possession during the Mumbai bombings that had killed 257 people in 1993 in the nation´s financial hub.
Dutt, who is the son of late legendary actor couple Nargis Dutt and Sunil Dutt, was accused of illegal possession of arms as lethal as an AK-56 rifle. He was, however, acquitted of graver charges under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.
On March 12, 1993, twelve coordinated blasts in Bombay Stock Exchange, Air India Building at Nariman Point and hotels Sea Rock and Juhu Centaur resulted in death of at least 257 people and injury to more than 700.
It was alleged that the blasts were the instruments to avenge the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992 and were allegedly conspired by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim (believed to be hiding in Pakistan now) and two other terrorists-Tiger Memon and his brother Yakub Memon.