The article “This plot needs a new ending” (March 26), authored by an eminent person, has misinterpreted the provisions on the right of private defence in the Indian Penal Code and found fault with the Supreme Court for sentencing actor Sanjay Dutt to five years in prison for being in illegal possession of a dangerous weapon. Can all Indians who have a threat perception collect arms and ammunition unlawfully in the name of the right to self-defence? Section 96 of the IPC does not authorise anyone to obtain arms, that too of totally prohibited description, for private defence.
The right of private defence is not absolute. It has been held by the Supreme Court in many cases that the right can be exercised only when the danger is real and imminent. Keeping a fully automatic rifle like AK-56 cannot be justified on the ground of apprehended danger. That Sanjay Dutt got the rifle from a proclaimed offender cannot be ignored. He was fully aware of the legal consequences at the time of acquiring the lethal weapon.
P. Bhargav Rao,
This refers to the report that the Press Council of India Chairman, Justice Markandey Katju, who has appealed to the Maharashtra Governor for Sanjay Dutt’s pardon, is set to appeal to the President to grant pardon to Zaibunnisa, another convict in the 1993 Bombay blasts case. Justice Katju holds a constitutional post and should do nothing to undermine it. If persons associated with acts of terror can be pardoned on such appeals, what is the need for courts?
Keywords: Sanjay Dutt