Lawyer and activist Abha Singh has urged Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan not to take cognisance of the clemency appeal made by Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju on behalf of actor Sanjay Dutt, who was sentenced to five years in jail by the Supreme Court for possession of illegal weapons in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
In her letter written on Tuesday, Ms. Singh said that while Justice Katju’s appeal for leniency could be his opinion, any action on his plea would appear that the powers that be were swayed by the statutory authority he possessed. “The post of Chairman, Press Council of India, is a very powerful one, and often, it is very difficult for any government to undermine his recommendations on any issue,” she said.
Justice Katju sought pardon for Mr. Dutt under Article 161 of the Constitution, arguing that the actor had not been found guilty of having played a role in the blasts, and he had suffered a lot over the past two decades.
Touching on the growing demand for pardon to Mr. Dutt by politicians such as Congress leader Digvijay Singh and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Ms. Singh said: “It does not wash that charges against Sanjay Dutt under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act were dropped … Politicians know that the 2014 polls are close and are attempting to prove their compassion by going [in] for such popularity gimmicks.”
“It could be politically correct, but legally it is all wrong,” Ms. Singh told The Hindu.
The Shiv Sena has said the actor should be denied any leniency.