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Mar 29, 2013 at 12:05am IST

Katju appeals for pardon on Dutt's behalf; Cong, BJP remain silent

Mumbai: Amidst the clamour to seek a pardon for him, actor Sanjay Dutt on Thursday broke his silence and said that he will not seek pardon in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. "Right now I am a shattered man. My family is shattered. I have very very tough time in my life, in our lives," said Dutt.

An emotional, and dejected Dutt broke down while addressing the media for the first time since the Supreme Court upheld his conviction in the 1993 case on Thursday. "I will surrender. When the time is given. Honourable Supreme Court has given me time to surrender and I will surrender at that time," said Dutt.

ALSO SEE Sanjay Dutt breaks down, says will surrender in 1993 blasts case

However, Dutt's statement did not deter Press Council of India chief Justice Markandey Katju from seeking pardon for the actor. Justice Katju on Thursday sent a written appeal to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking pardon for Dutt, who was sentenced to five years in jail by the apex court. Justice Katju also sought pardon for another convict, 71-year-old Zaibunisa Kazi. On what grounds he was demanding pardon, Katju had said that "Public good is one of them, there can be many other considerations like humanitarian considerations for grant of pardon." "If you study the Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution, they do not state that who can appeal. Section 72 provides power to the President to pardon and section 166 to the governor," he said.

"But both sections do not state that who can appeal and it is not written on what grounds pardons can be given. There could be thousands of ground for pardon," he added. Katju also said that he had issued his appeal for Dutt without having interacted or spoken to the actor. "I have not talked to Sanjay Dutt, I have not contacted him, he has not approached me. In my first appeal which I issued for pardon, I did it without contacting him," he said.

ALSO SEE Justice Katju says he'll seek pardon for Sanjay Dutt, Zaibunisa

However, Former Attorney-General of India Soli Sorabjee said that Dutt showed maturity in not asking pardon. Sorabjee also said that as an individual Justice Katju can request for pardon but not as the Chairman of Press Council. "Let us respect Sanjay Dutt's wish and let him be left in peace," said Sorabjee.

Meanwhile, Justice Katju's a pitch for pardoning Dutt saw many reactions. Janata Dal (United) said he should not act like a spokesperson of a political party. JD(U) Secretary General KC Tyagi also said that there should not be any political interference in the legal processes. "It would be good if Katju remains as the chief of PCI instead of becoming the spokesperson of any party. He has been giving his opinion on everything right from Bihar to Sanjay Dutt," he said.

Tyagi also wondered whether Katju will do the same for other convicts in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. "I don't want to comment on his (Katju's) intellect as he has been a judge, but had it been a Muslim instead of Sanjay Dutt, would Katju have demanded the same thing for him also. Would he do something for (convict) Yakub Menon also?" he asked.

Tyagi said that Dutt's acting skills should be admired but his party will not in any way back his wrong deeds. "There should not be any interference of political people in it, whether it is Katju or Amar Singh. His (Dutt's) acting skills should be admired. He did a good job in Munna Bhai (films) but we are not going to back the wrong things he did," he said.

The JD(U) leader said that dangerous weapons were found in Dutt's house during police investigation and his conduct has been a contrast to that of his parents who had spread the message of patriotism in the country. "Dangerous weapons were found in his house. Instead of saying that he is the son of someone, it will be more appropriate to say that his conduct has proven to be disgraceful," Tyagi said.

"Sanjay Dutt's parents were glorious people, who used to spread the message of patriotism across the country. But Sanjay Dutt has done just the opposite," he added.

Mweanwhile, the Congress said that it would not like to interfere in a legal matter while the BJP said he should follow the court verdict. "We do not interfere in any legal matter of any sort whether it is by intervention or by remarks. The court delivers judgements and whatever judgement the courts deliver, we respect that," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told

reporters.

He said the Congress does not comment on such matters and never "interferes or intervenes" in legal proceedings in any manner. JP MP Balbir Punj said the law must be allowed to take its own course in Dutt's case. "In fact, the court has been soft on Dutt and whatsoever punishment has been given to him as a law abiding citizen, he must respect the court's judgement," Punj said.

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said it would be a "very sensible thing" for Dutt to serve his sentence. "He has to undergo the sentence for confabulating and mixing with those Indians known to be anti-India like Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel, Anees Ibrahim...So he has to undergo the sentence," Swamy said.

He maintained that it was not a big sentence. "It is only three and a half years. He can do many good things in jail.... Pardon is impossible," Swamy said.

The Bollywood actor, who has been ordered by the Supreme Court to return to jail to complete a five year sentence in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, on Thursday said he has not sought any pardon and will surrender in time.

Amid a growing clamour for his clemency, the 53-year-old said, "All I can tell you is I have not applied for pardon," during his interaction with the press in Mumbai. As Dutt has already served 18 months in jail, he would have to undergo imprisonment for three-and-a-half-years.

Dutt, 53, was ordered by the Supreme Court on March 21 to return to jail to complete a five-year sentence while 70-year-old Zaibunisa Kazi's five-year imprisonment was confirmed by the apex court in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. Katju said, "I came to know about punishment awarded to him (Dutt) through TV. After that I went through the judgement and I felt that he has been socially boycotted for five years, it took five to six years for him to restore his career. "No producer offered him film. (There were) no bank loans for him and every time he needed to seek court's permission before going on foreign trips," he said.

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