Friday, March 22, 2013

Being Justice Choudhury Oops..Justice Katju and Sanjay Dutt

Once upon a time,I was very young. Yes, I was, believe you me. At that time a spate of movies, originating from the land of larger than life politicians with great sunglasses, huge fan followings and more than average number of wives, a great many films hit the screen. The movies helped the young grow very fast, encouraging today, after many year for people to reduce the age of consent. One such movie was 'Justice Choudhury'. I have given this explanation to let you know that this piece has no reference to Justice Iftekhar Choudhury of Pakistan, thus prompting their parliament to pass resolution against the post, thereby prompting Indian government to pass a counter resolution and so on and so forth.
So for record, I refer to Justice Choudhury of Jitender Starrer, and I refer to it at this point of time, because Justice ( should I say ex, just like Ex Army Chief whose security cover was taken off, coincidentally at the time he was charged with instigating a riot) Katju to my mind brings the images of Justice Choudhury. He has same sense of self-righteousness, and all-pervasive, self assumed authority of all that is happening in the country. I think of him on account of his latest letter seeking mercy for the Actor Sanjay Dutt. He gives voice to many who stand enamoured by the characters played by the actor and out of sheer love and affection are crying hoarse seeking his sentence, passed by the honerable Supreme Court to be commuted. 

I respect him for standing for free speech when girls were jailed for Facebook comments, and I respect him for taking up the cudgels on behalf of Sanju Baba, as the actor is affectionately called. I am however troubled by the fact that the plea for mercy coming from such legal luminary is devoid of correct reasons. Let us look at the reasons he proposes in his blog, Satyam Bruat.

1. His first point is that under Section 25 1A Arms Act, which provisions for a sentence between five and ten years, his sentence has been fixed at the lowest end of the range at five years. He says, on this account, his punishment ought to be commuted under Section 4 of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. 
I find this argument a little self-defeating. It implies that he got away with a lighter punishment, and now that he did get a lighter punishment, the same may be used as a reason to exonerate him. Even when laced with grand sounding sections and clauses, I am not able to clearly understand the argument being made.

2. His second point mentions the possibility of granting the pardon is possible under Article 161 of the constitution. He quotes a precedence where in pardon was granted under the Act. Neither the precedence nor the possibility can be used as a reason for granting the pardon. Having put forth the two options for commuting the sentence, the Justice puts forth the reasons for the same. I understand having been handed over lightest sentence possible can not be treated as a reason to commute it, and seemingly so does the Justice as he sets new arguments, which we find are as silly.

A. The event happened 20 years ago. In that duration, as per Katju, he suffered a lot, and couldn't take bank loan and travel abroad without permission of the court. -
It must take a very different sensibility to understand the whole logic. During this period of suffering, Sanjay Dutt went on to make movies, did travel abroad, the need for permission notwithstanding, made money, went into politics and eventually got married, the third time. I am trying to figure out the suffering part of it. How having to take permission to travel abroad is suffering, not being able to afford to travel abroad is, not getting your passport because policeman coming for verification isn't convinced you have stayed in noted residence for more than one year and wants chai pani, is. Not being able to get a bank loan is something which mango men of this country can empathise with, but why on Earth would a successful star need a bank loan? Katju doesn't explain and doesn't care. He heads press council and this is free speech.

B. Sanjay Dutt has already served 18 months in Jail. Well, so did Kasab, why did we hang him.

C. Sanjay Dutt got married and has two children. When the justice was a justice, was that his principle that he would only sentence people, who are yet to get married, and about to have children, or maybe only those unlikely to reach the state of marital engagement or parenthood. The PCI chief has by now already contradicted his first argument.

D. He has not been held to be a terrorist. - Agreed, but he has not been sentenced for that either, as the great man himself has told us, Sanjay Dutt was handed over the lowest punishment possible under the Arms Act. I am still, though not clear, whether Arms act applies with same magnitude, whether the arm in question is country made revolver, a knife, a sophisticated weapon like AK -47 or nuclear arm, or WMD, which George W Bush familiarised us with.

E. His parents were good socially responsible people. Well, so, law is meant to act only on those with parents less than exemplary. Is the Justice talking of treating  the offspring of ordinary citizens differently. Are those with great parentage exempt of law of the land? Should they be walking around with hand grenades and drive battle tanks with impunity?

G. In last 20 years, through his movies, in which he acted under the yoke of huge suffering, he revived the memories of Mahatma Gandhi. He also acted as Khalnayak and as Kancha China, should that be used to decide his sentence.

That the Justice is now heading Press Council and matter under question has nothing to do with journalism, writing or press, is of no relevance to him. As an independent citizen, he sure is entitled to his view. Sanjay Dutt made a mistake, but he wasn't a kid when he made that mistake. Regarding the view of Justice Katju that great parentage entitles one to greater mercy, it scares me to think he was taking decisions pertaining to justice not long time back. The letter holds within it an embarrassing dose of cronyism and discrimination based on your parentage. If Katju has such soft position on Sanjay Dutt, who are we to grill DGP BB Mohanti for trying to protect his own blood,whether or not rape convict.
All the great votaries of equality and justice, have taken indefensible position of seeking mercy for the man who is affectionately called baba, even when approaching sixty and who claims to have procured three AK 47, two returned, from those who eventually caused the death of more than 200 people, by mistake.
As a country, we seem to have lost the sense of justice. We are becoming an elitist society, where we are demanding different rules for those we love and those we believe to be of privileged birth. Regarding bank loans, I would like Mr. katju's attention on Farmers committing suicide due to not being able to pay their loans. That Mr. Katju is suffering.
Please be mindful of the expectation the poor of this nation, those who do not have great pedigree like the object of your concern, who died en-masse in blasts in Mumbai, for a mature individual, mature enough to do multi crore movie deals, was kiddish enough to not report of
Sophisticated arms he obtained from those who went on to cause Mumbai blasts. And what did he buy arms for, killing squirrels? And to fellow citizens, justice and love when in contradiction, must find justice winning, that is the pre condition for a society





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