New Delhi: Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Justice Markandey Katju has kept his word and written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking pardon for actor Sanjay Dutt and 1993 Mumbai blasts case convict Zaibunisa Kazi. Even as Dutt said in a statement that he would not apply for mercy, Katju had earlier promised that, "I will appeal for Dutt and Zaibunisa's pardon. It's true that it was a grave offence and the court has given the right judgement. Sanjay has done some foolish things as a young man, but he is a changed man now and I will appeal for his pardon."
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.
Sanjay Dutt on Thursday broke his silence on his sentencing in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. An emotional Dutt broke down while speaking to the media and said he will surrender in the case and will not seek a pardon. Dutt, who broke down several times during his statement to the media, said, "I am a law abiding citizen. I have the highest respect for the Supreme Court. I will abide to all terms and conditions. I will surrender at the time given. I have not applied for any pardon."
"There are many other people who deserve pardon. I want to tell with folded hands to the media, the honourable citizens of the country that when I am not going for pardon then there can be no debate about it," Dutt added.
Dutt, 53, was ordered by the Supreme Court on March 21 to return to jail to complete a five-year sentence while woman convict 70-year-old Zaibunisa Anwar 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.
The PCI chief said that Dutt was married and had two kids. "In those twenty years he has not done anything wrong. There could be some humanitarian perspective," Katju said. He also said that normally the order of the President and a governor is not subject to judiciary review.
Meanwhile, Zaibunisa Kazi, who has been convicted for the same charges as Sanjay Dutt, appealed to the Maharashtra Governor seeking pardon. Zaibunisa's daughter asked clemency for her mother, after Justice Katju demanded that Sanjay Dutt be pardoned.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)