Sympathy for Sanjay Dutt, but he must pay the price



Now that Sanjay Dutt has said that he does not want a pardon, let’s end this debate once and for all. If Sanjay is willing to pay his debt to society, having exhausted all his legal options, then we should not stand in his way.

But first, a few clarifications. Much of the debate has centered on the deaths that occurred during the Bombay bombings. People have spoken in emotive terms about those killed in that tragedy and sought to link Sanjay’s conviction to their deaths. “How can we forget the martyrs of Bombay?” is a common refrain. And of course, the objection would be valid if Sanjay had any connection with the bombings. But according to the Supreme Court, he was not involved in the bomb blasts conspiracy at all. So yes, we must never forget those who lost so much during the bombings. But it is not fair to Sanjay to blame him for that tragedy.

According to the Supreme Court, Sanjay’s crime was this. He acquired assault rifles in an effort to protect his family which he perceived was under threat after the Bombay riots of 1992/3. The court says it understands his motives but the law is the law. His possession of these weapons is a crime under the Arms Act and the minimum sentence is five years. Therefore, said the court, it had no choice but to sentence him to five years in jail.

The language of the judgment suggests that the court was not unsympathetic to Sanjay. Not only did it not regard him as a terrorist, it also cleared him of any involvement in the actual blasts case. As for the judgment and the sentence, it simply had no choice given the overwhelming evidence that proves that Sanjay possessed the weapon.

Those who argue for a pardon for Sanjay usually frame their appeal in terms of his complete lack of involvement in the blasts conspiracy.

This is fair and true. But the Supreme Court already knew this when it passed its judgment. So let’s forget, for a moment, about the blasts. All that Sanjay has been found guilty of is possessing a weapon. And that is a crime no matter which way you look at it.

The other defence offered by Sanjay’s supporters is that he needed the weapon to protect himself. But once you use this argument, you go down a slippery slope. Sanjay was a big-time movie star. He lived in luxury in Pali Hill. He had the money to hire private security guards. Now, contrast his situation with the poor Muslims who lived in slums and tenements, who had their homes ransacked, their daughters raped and their relatives killed during the riots. If any one of these people had called up a gangster and asked for an assault rifle, would we have seriously disputed their convictions or sentences? We would have taken the line that it is a dangerous precedent for citizens to start turning to the underworld to procure assault rifles for use on the streets of Bombay.

And indeed, many of the convictions in terrorism cases are based on no more than the possession of deadly weapons. As a society that tries to live by the law, we simply cannot accept a situation in which citizens start arming themselves and turning to the underworld for protection. Once we do that, we might as well kiss the rule of law goodbye.

The only difference between Sanjay Dutt’s case and that of the many others who have been arrested for carrying dangerous weapons is not that Sanjay was under greater threat. It is that he is a movie star. If we are so unwilling to show any mercy to those poor slum-dwellers who armed themselves and consorted with gangsters because they felt under threat during communal riots then how on earth can we justify using a different yardstick for Sanjay Dutt?

That leaves the so-called humanitarian objection. I do not deny that Dutt has suffered. When he was arrested, I was one of his most vocal supporters. I believed that he was the victim of politics and that he had been targeted by opponents of his father, Sunil Dutt, who was then an MP. Nor did I have much respect for the Bombay Police’s investigation into the bomb blast case. (Here I have to declare an interest: I was a friend of Sunil Dutt’s and still feel very warmly towards his family at a personal level. Sanjay’s sister, Priya, for example, has my admiration for her work as an MP.)

But it is one thing to argue that a man who has been convicted of no crime and is hardly a terrorist should be treated humanely. And it is quite another to argue that a man who has been convicted of a crime by the highest court in the land should be let off because he is a movie star or because we feel warmly towards his family.

As for Sanjay’s sufferings, as he himself admits, he has fared much better than the other accused in the blasts case. All of them have had their lives destroyed. Even those who were acquitted of any involvement in the conspiracy have had their worlds shattered and can never resume a normal existence again. So, let’s not talk of suffering. If we were to use those grounds, then there are many people much more deserving of a pardon than Sanjay Dutt.

So, what should Sanjay do? Personally, I think he has done the right thing by saying that he does not want a pardon. He should go to jail for the three and a half years or so that remain of his sentence. My guess is that he will probably get out earlier for good behaviour, etc. By the time he is released, he will have won our hearts with his willingness to take his punishment like a man not like some weeping brat. He made a mistake by consorting with gangsters and acquiring arms. He did so with the best possible intentions. But he broke the law. And now he must pay the price.

When he is released, those of us who already feel warmly towards him – people like myself – will respect him more for having had the courage to accept incarceration. There is more bravery involved in admitting that you have made a mistake than there is in calling up your gangster pals and asking them to send over a couple of Kalashnikovs.

I doubt if his career will suffer. He has been through much worse before and emerged unscathed. This time around, when he walks out of jail, he will have not just our sympathy but also our respect. And respect trumps sympathy every time.

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  • gg

    what about your debt to the society???you have also had your share of fun?When do you plan to surrender? I am referring to Radia Tapes, loser.

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    Viren Reply:

    LOL Good one…..
    He and his sister Barkha will never do that. And shame of these media houses, who employs them. There is no distinction between political parties and media house. Both have people with criminal background ( I believe who sell thier columns to influence people are bigger criminal )

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  • virkaviru

    lol vir sanghvi…u know all these as you know how media stories got build and you are master in that…

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  • Arya

    I can’t believe that Vir Sangvi has the guts to write after the Radia episode. By the way, what there you telling Barkha?

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  • RK

    ” Now, contrast his situation with the poor Muslims who lived in slums and tenements, who had their homes ransacked, their daughters raped and their relatives killed during the riots.”

    Really? Only Muslims were killed in the riots?

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    Ram Pin Reply:

    Obviously, from a kangressi’s eyes, only Muslim lives are important. The term he needed to use their was ‘People’ – poor people. Thats all. Religion, caste, color, creed – riots do not discriminate, they affect you no matter.

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  • Jai

    Really Vir give up writing and find another job. After all, you have quite a burden of corruption on your shoulders.

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  • Radia ki Mummy

    abe jaake Radia ki tatti saaf kar aur 10 runpath ki toilet ko clean kar dhang se harpic use kario, aur Raoul Baba ki Diaper bhi dho dio. Journalism tere bas ki nahi, isliye nahi ki tere me talent nahi, isliye ki tu hai khangress ka desi k u t t a !!! hurr!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Yes, only Vir Sanghvi and advertised politicians get away for free in independent India. All others pay eventually.

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  • skl

    NO Sympathy for Sanjay Dutt, he MUST pay the price. Any body sympathazing with criminals is a part of that team.

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  • Amit

    Fair article.

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  • Suren Singh Sahni

    In India their is rule of law for some people. How about the corrupt politicians who are murderers rapists and instigators of Genocides ; protectors of culprits involved in Bhopal tragedy police encounters. (Times of India refused to publish this blog). A country’s greatness is judged by the rule of law for all. In India some people are more equal than others.

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  • Devendra Sood

    It is easy for Vir Sanghvi, I don’t know who this Sanghvi guy is – I live in US for last 45 years, to vax eloquent but what about Sanjay Dutt being dragged through the courts for over twenty years.

    Isn’t there a requirement for timely justice? I would have no compunction seeing Sanjay doing his full five years or whatever the punishment might be. But after 20 years….give me a break.

    Any law abiding society, if it wants to follow the law to the letter has a responsibility to meet out that justice in a timely manner. Sanjay has been punished more than enough. And just the courts’ fuc…up is enough to obiate his sentence.

    I am no Sanjay fan. I would say that for any man or woman. Any fair society, if it prides itself to be fair and law abiding, must provide timely justice or let people go. You MUST NOT destroy people’s life just because you can.

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    raj Reply:

    timely justice
    — but he thought he can get free with money & lawyers dragged on case.
    many people in this case, had to be issued arrest warrant for not attending court when summoned. the law gives them more power. many witness became hostile buy taking money. no wonder case is dragged because law does not want a single innocent to he harmed. it was misused by him & his lawyer. How many times he missed court for his film shooting.

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  • JJ

    When one reads Vir’S Write up, it is very objectively written and one must respect him for his views.

    Well written and Well articulated, Vir.. thank you..The Law is Law.. it is the same for all.

    One must respect the Judiciary and not let the Executive waterdown judgements of the Judiciary.( all this Talk about pardon is not fair as then the floddgates would open up).

    As Vir mentioned, good behaviour would deifinitely hep in remission of the sentence . Mr Dutt has shown guts in saying that he will not appeal. Let us respect him for that.

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    raj Reply:

    Mr Dutt has shown guts in saying that he will not appeal
    — hello, its supreme court & he can only file a review petition. He also knows his money, lawyers & political friends are useless, so no use in appeal. if he had accepted his guilt the first day in court, people would hv respected. Lot of tax payers money would hv been saved & it could hv been used for lot of good things. He wasted lot of public money.

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  • RK Sharma

    I feel Dutt suffered enough, Sunil Dutt is also no more to help him and Sunil Dutt did lot of good deeds for country, Sanjay made a wrong judgement call, spent 18 months in Jail and is suffering for last 20 yrs, mental tension itself is a big punishment, in India i haven’t seen any big person suffer that much and he was not involved in blasts, also we Indians have tendency to be jealous and revengeful against any famous person, I am middle class person and I know not even one person will support me if I am in trouble but still i feel Sanjay Dutt suffered enough, law and justice system is based on reform and punishment, there are few like Delhi gang rape juvenile who will walk in 3 months (May 2013) and Chief Justice supports him , now can such a person reformed answer is NO, on other hand i feel Sanjay Dutt was not mature and may be opponents of Sunil Dutt set him up in some trap, Now the point is if Sanju baba is let free it will be set as precedent so there can be one way, he has to stay in jail for 3.5 yrs as per supreme court judgement, let him spend 1.5 yrs in Jail and he should donate 2 yrs of earnings in charity (40 crores), this way law will be respected and his suffering will get reduced. If he doesn’t serve any sentence then it may create wrong impression on minds of other youngsters and India is already lawless state, I have sympathy for Dutt and I remember once there was robbery in my home and I got bullet in my body, in government hospital nobody touched me for 4 hrs since I was middle class person with no connections but still I somehow feel this man has suffered as per Indian context, justice should reform those who are at-least remorseful, some people can’t be reformed like Delhi gang rape persons but may be Dutt can be, he has 2 small kids now, if he is not harming anybody why to make criminal of him, find out some middle way. His father also did lot of good things and Sunil Dutt was a good man.

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    max Reply:

    if he is so good as you say & then why did he not accept his guilt the first day in court. He would hv been out of jail now & hv a peaceful life.

    — still no words of sympathy for other accused ??? why??? why happend to your assumed humanity

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  • http://twitter.com/sskumar_87 sskumar

    how much money they pay you !!. After Radia who?

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  • XYZ

    SANJAY DUTT WAS NEITHER A KID NOR A JUVENILE IN 1993———-IF HE WAS FEELING INSECURE HE COULD HAVE APPLIED FOR A REVOLVER LICENSE——–IT IS SURPRISING WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SYMPATHISISNG WITH HIM—SYMPATHY FOR WHAT?—–THERE IS NO SEPARATE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCUDURE FOR FILM STARS—-BOLLYWOOD IS NOT EXEMPTED FROM INDIAN PENAL CODE

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  • mgnakhate

    Indeed as always respect overrides sympathy!

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  • aaditya

    Well written.

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  • aaditya

    If I am you, I will block these comments which are simply jibes. Better
    to have silent readers than commentators who are waiting for a chance to
    humiliate you. I will give same advice to Barkha, Karan Thapar etc. Let
    these commentators boil and get high blood pressure without any outlet
    to ventilate their frustrations.

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    raj Reply:

    freedom of speech only for me !!!!!!

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  • Raj

    There is more bravery involved in admitting that you have made a mistake
    —– then why not admit his guilt the first day & go to jail. he would hv been out of jail by now & hv a peaceful life. He dragged thinking his money , lawyers & political friends will help.

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  • Raj

    calling up your gangster pals and asking them to send over a couple of Kalashnikovs.
    —- dawood is a not a petty gangster, he is into terrorism, just to shore up sanjay’s image , don’t downgrade poor dawood, he may get angry !!!! he sent Kalashnikovs and rdx to india for your info.

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  • Anonymous

    The latest ecnonomist (british) talks about Journalists getting money from the congress to write praise of maa and naeta dynasties. can you give us some details>

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  • Anonymous

    I think you are forgetting that Sanjay was consorting with the mafia till 2000 and they are police tapings on it. The grenades which reached his hosue were not for dewali crackers.

    Possibly his drug damaged mind thought he was fighting a filmi gangwar.

    Of course being the son of a muslim mother he wanted to protect Muslims. But was this the way?

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  • http://www.arjunkr.in Arjun.K.R

    writer has a point

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  • Andreasmith

    I think that Supreme court should be give the Pardon to the Sanjay Dutt in the way of Humanity .This case had been since 20 year whenever Sanjay had been completed the half term of Jail therefore I do not think Now Court does not need give to any type of Punished to the Sanjay dutt.

    http://www.prlog.org/12109431-musicians-friend-coupon-code-20-off-on-entire-offerings.html

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