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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Will move court if Sanjay Dutt given any reprieve: Subramanian Swamy

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said he would oppose any reprieve for actor Sanjay Dutt in the 1993 blasts case. Hinting at retired justice Markandey Katju's appeal that Dutt be pardoned, he told a TV channel: "If they're given any kind of reprieve, I will go to court. (I'm) clear on that. I did the same in the Rajiv Gandhi case." Katju said he would also appeal for the pardon of convict Zaibunisa Kazi. The Supreme Court on March 21 upheld Dutt's conviction under the Arms Act for possession and destruction of an AK-56 before the blasts. Swamy said, "The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment of 2006, in the case of Sudhakar versus the State of Andhra Pradesh, had clearly held that the only ground on which a pardon plea can be considered is the ground of public good." He said this on TV while Katju, chief of the Press Council of India, was also on air. Swamy said "public welfare" is a vital consideration in granting pardon and there were parameters to be followed that didn't apply to Dutt. He said Dutt had "got the lightest sentence of anyone else". "Zaibunisa's sentence is tougher." They both received five years rigorous imprisonment, but while Kazi was convicted under the anti-terror law (Tada), Dutt was convicted under the Arms Act. "The pardon is not unfettered. It is subject to judicial review. There are parameters laid down in several judgments and I don't think Dutt's case fits any parameter," said Swamy. Replying to Swamy, ex-judge Katju said, "The law has to be same for everyone, but the facts in each case may be different. In Dutt's case, the SC has said in para 70 that he is not involved in the blasts and that he had a prohibited weapon, but it was for his personal safety." He said that, hence, on "humanitarian grounds" there is a strong case to grant Dutt a pardon. "The humanitarian element comes into play in the pardon process... no strict norms or rules are laid down for grant of pardon." But Swamy said that, while granting a pardon, the SC has laid down that "public welfare must be enhanced", which he said is hard to see in Dutt's case. He added that the "court has been extraordinarily lenient to (Dutt) so far". Swamy said several times that Dutt was a film star who had associated with criminals who have been linked to the 1993 blasts. Katju said humanitarian grounds are a consideration and "in this case is fully justified. He said that "merely picking up one judgment and harping on it" would not amount to much. He added that Dutt wasn't "getting away scot-free. He has served 18 months in jail. After that it took him five to six years to restore his film career. He was ostracized by the industry, no film producer offered him a role.... He could not even get a bank loan. For 20 years he was harassed. Each time he would have to go abroad, he needed special permission." Katju added, "I am least impressed by the fact that he is a film star. It is nothing to do with celebrity." Meanwhile, a family member close to Dutt told TOI on Wednesday that the actor would try and complete all his shootings before turning himself in. Dutt has four weeks starting from March 21 to surrender. "Sanjay Dutt will complete all his shootings before he surrenders to the authorities. He has already committed to all his producers that he will finish the shootings of their films. A lot is at stake for the producers and Sanjay will not leave them in the lurch. It is unlikely that he will surrender before the deadline. He will utilize whatever time he has to complete his films." Legal experts said that unless the SC extends Dutt's time to surrender, he may do so two days before the four-week time period ends. A lawyer Dutt met during the last week had advised the actor that he must surrender and honour the SC verdict and then pursue his rights for a pardon or a judicial review as available. Sources said Dutt will be back on the sets on Thursday to shoot for T P Agarwal's 'Policegiri' at Kamalistan. Some other Dutt films on the floor are Raju Hirani's 'PK', Karan Johar's 'Unglee' and Apoorva Lakhia's remake of 'Zanjeer'.

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