'Pardoning Sanjay Dutt will send a very wrong message': Balbir Punj

New Delhi, Mar. 22 : Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Balbir Punj on Friday said that if actor Sanjay Dutt, whose five-year sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in an arms case related to the 1993 Mumbai blasts, is pardoned, then it would indicate that Indian democracy had double standards.

"Now, simply because he is a big actor, simply because his father was related to the ruling party simply because he is a rich and a famous man and if he goes unpunished and doesn't get the punishment which the honourable Supreme Court has given, it will send a very wrong message and it will mean that Indian democracy has double standards," he added, while commenting on Press Council chief Justice Markandey Katju asking Maharashtra Governor K. Sankarnarayanan, to pardon the film star in this case.

The Congress-led UPA Government today indicated that the matter will be looked into and an appropriate decision taken once such a plea is made by the actor.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Friday said there are various aspects to this issue, and added that the government will take the statement of Justice Katju into cognisance.

Tewari said Justice Katju has been a very eminent judge of the Supreme Court.

"Whenever Justice Katju articulates a position on a certain issue, people both inside and outside government listen to it very seriously; but there are various aspects to this issue," Tewari told mediapersons outside the Parliament here.

"And I am sure that those people within government, whether at the state government-level or at the level of various other instrumentalities of government who are seized with the responsibility of dealing with this issue would take that statement into cognisance and then if required formulate an appropriate response and come back to you," he added.

Union Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar said, 'Governor will use his discretionary power when there will be an appeal to him. He has the power to pardon. We should not comment on it'.

Justice Katju on his part said he was lending his support to the Bollywood actor only on humanitarian grounds.

"This is a humanitarian reason. I have supported many people on humanitarian reasons. For example Pakistani Doctor Khalil Chishti. You may remember (that) I supported him. He was not my relative. I did not even know him. He was not my relation, my friend. But I felt that on humanitarian grounds I should support him. Similarly, in many cases I support people on humanitarian grounds," Justice Katju said.

"I have written a letter to the Governor of Maharashtra through the Chief Minister of Maharashtra because the Governor acts on the advice of the Chief Minister not on his own discretion," he added.

Dutt, who is out on bail, will also have to surrender within four weeks to serve a jail term of 42 months as the apex court reduced to five years the six year jail term awarded to him by a designated TADA court in 2007 and he had already spent 18 months behind the bar.

A total of 257 persons were killed and 713 others injured when a series 13 coordinated explosions shattered the metropolis on March 12, 1993.

The blasts occurred at 12 places, including Bombay Stock Exchange building, Air-India Building at Nariman Point, at Worli opposite Century Bazaar, Hotels Sea Rock and Juhu Centaur.

--ANI (Posted on 23-03-2013)

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