Eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan has given the full background of the case of Sanjay Dutt, sentenced to five years in prison for being in possession of dangerous weapons in the Bombay blasts case (March 26). The legal error he points to in the Supreme Court judgment clearly merits a review.
If the intent, circumstantial evidence and Sanjay Dutt’s general behaviour as an accused or paroled convict can extenuate his guilt, he has every right to appeal for a reprieve or pardon and he must be allowed that right in all fairness.
I found the argument in favour of Sanjay Dutt absurd. Anyone possessing illegal arms can say he or she is doing so for self-defence. Yes, the times were grave in Mumbai in 1992-1993 but not every Mumbaikar contacted the underworld to procure arms. My heart wails when I see the Bombay blasts being trivialised, making them Sanjay Dutt centric. His being a high-profile person who did a movie on Gandhian principles doesn’t absolve him of the crime he committed.
Anmol Rai Gupta,
Mr. Bhushan has conveniently ignored the various limitations to the right of private defence. The right is not available to an aggressor and it cannot be pleaded as a defence in cases in which there is enough time to seek recourse to protection from the public authorities.
The right of private defence conferred under Section 97 of the Indian Penal Code is subject to the restrictions contained in Section 99 which, inter alia, include that the defender should have no time to have recourse to protection from the public authorities. It is only when there is an imminent threat to his or any other person’s body from the aggressor and there is no time to approach public authorities for protection that the case for exercise of the right of private defence arises.
Acquiring and possessing a lethal weapon capable of causing mass death and destruction cannot be justified in the name of private defence.
Keywords: Sanjay Dutt