I refer to the five-year jail sentence awarded to Sanjay Dutt by the Supreme Court. I met Sanjay’s father, Sunil Dutt, in the mid-1970s when he came to Pahalgam, where I was a medical officer, for a couple of months in connection with his film Jaani Dushman.

Sanjay Dutt has been sentenced for possessing an automatic weapon illegally. But let us analyse the situation that prevailed in the country in the 1990s and the junior Dutt’s arguments in his defence. Let us also not forget that he never used his arms to terrorise anybody. I know this does not prove Sanjay Dutt’s innocence beyond doubt. But I also know that in the interest of national integrity and many other considerations, governments all over the world have used the law at different times to pardon people.

Mirza Ashraf Beg,

Anantnag

While my personal opinion is that there should be no pardon in Sanjay Dutt’s case, in a country where the mere membership of a banned organisation cannot carry criminal liability, the possession of a weapon should not warrant a punishment of five years when the prosecution has failed to prove that the accused planned to use the weapon for any particular activity.

M.K. Arjun,

Thiruvananthapuram

The clamour for Sanjay Dutt’s pardon in various quarters and the reasons put forth reinforce the belief that the rich and famous in India can violate rules with impunity.

Had a common man been convicted for possessing an AK-56, he would have been branded a criminal and bestowed with all sorts of epithets but Sanjay Dutt is “innocent.” I can’t help but condemn this elite hypocrisy.

Poonam Sinha,

New Delhi

No doubt Sanjay Dutt has suffered a lot in the last 20 years. He has also been in prison for 18 months. It would be a big loss to the country and to me, a great fan of the actor, if he could not act for the next three years.

But none of this is comparable to the loss suffered by those who died or faced near-death experience in the Bombay blasts. Agreed, Sanjay’s involvement in the blasts has not been proved but isn’t it also true that had it been proved, his sentence would have been much more severe? He has been given the minimum punishment his crime attracts.

I feel ashamed rather than angry when I think he could have helped the police in time. Of course the decision of the Governor/President is final. But people asking for the actor’s pardon should never forget that had a common man been prosecuted for a similar crime, they would have been satisfied with nothing less than the maximum sentence of 10 years.

Ravi Rai,

Visakhapatnam

Keywords: Sanjay Dutt

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