Sanjay Dutt’s sentencing

Equality before law and the rule of law was reinforced in the public mind when Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment. His matter had come on the board of TADA court about six months back and the judge kept adjourning the matter, finally on 31 July the judge pronounced the verdict. From the legal point of view the verdict was quite satisfactory, since the minimum sentence for illegal possession of weapons is 5 years. The judge used his discretion and gave six. After the acquittal of Manu Sharma the son of an industrialist and the acquittal of the Chief Minister of Jharkand, there was a general feeling that the high and mighty always get away and that the law is systematically twisted from time to time to suit those in power. This view was dispelled when Sanjay was sentenced.

The judicial process in our country can be very predictable, as soon as Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment he was immediately released on bail on the grounds that he did not receive a copy of the judgment, till he receives that copy he can remain on bail and after he receives it from TADA court he can apply for regular bail and thereafter the matter regarding his conviction. But explanation can there be for not giving the judgment?? The very fact Judge Kode has sentenced Sanjay implies that after hearing the matter he dictated a judgment, then why is a copy of it not given. It is not possible that the TADA court doesn’t have the printing machinery to take out a copy of the judgment. From the given circumstance it is quite clear that there is some element of manipulation involved with this issue otherwise there is no reasonable explanation for this delay.

Another aspect which must be dealt with is the public reaction to Sanjays sentencing or rather it should be called public sentiment due to its very nature. There are people who are writing blogs, saying that the sentencing is too harsh and “Munnabhai” must be dealt with some compassion and care. Here particularly I would like to quote the lines of a charted accountant who writes Column’s regularly on the website of CNN IBN.

Many will agree that Sanjay Dutt, though had a different image earlier, now, apparently, reflects a complete transformation as a human being. His apparent soft & humble gestures, the hand shakes, his statements in the court, the feeling of guilt, et al. are clearly the reflections of his makeover in the past years. Sanju Baba’s characters in his recent movies Munnabhai MBBS and the sequel Lago Raho Munnabhai carried mind-boggling touching messages which ended up leaving lost lasting & worth following impressions on several minds (I will say at least mine).

Tell me, what we are going to achieve by putting this person behind the bars. We will be seriously wasting 6 years of an amazing talent, which can be put to better use of spreading more Munnabhai messages around. But as we have to keep the punishment also in mind, so Sanju Baba can be let free to work for movies and other noble & social projects – but with the strict caveat that all the remuneration he receives from these projects should go to fund a specific social project, which can help lacs of ailing and poor families of our country by providing basic amenities of food, clothing & shelter. Besides, there can be other restrictions with respect to his moving out of country or doing or not doing certain acts or many such other things for which judiciary is more capable to decide.

Really, no one is going to achieve anything by imprisoning a worthwhile talent who is also capable of earning huge sums of money in a short period of time, which in turn can help countless deprived families in our nation. The case is set to be appealed and heard in the highest court of the country and, possibly, it is a rare chance for the judiciary to do something imaginative and create new benchmarks and examples for the years – rather generations to come.”

As soon as I read this post I wrote a comment on the website which was not published by CNN IBN, I said that im really surprised that educated people who are also regular columnists have the audacity to say this “His apparent soft & humble gestures, the hand shakes, his statements in the court, the feeling of guilt, et al. are clearly the reflections of his makeover in the past years” This Mr. Columnist of CNN IBN apparently does not know the rule of law, and the behavior of a person can hardly be judged from his films and his public appearances where he will put up his best behavior. The columnist further says “Tell me, what we are going to achieve by putting this person behind the bars. We will be seriously wasting 6 years of an amazing talent, which can be put to better use of spreading more Munnabhai messages around.” Just because a person is talented and spreads messages doesn’t mean he will be granted a lesser sentencing than what the statue prescribes, and if he does get lesser sentencing, it amounts to discrimination by the judiciary. The public reaction to this case is truly disappointing. People are not so vocal when it comes to fighting poverty a problem which we have had for decades, for those police officers who are dying in naxalite areas, for those farmers who are committing suicides for the last 100 years since 1907 (earlier it was due to British imperialism and today it is because of globalization). Had public sentiment acted for these issues we would have had a better place to live in today.








8 comments on “Sanjay Dutt’s sentencing

  1. YOUNG BULL says:




    “I would firstly, like to lay down a few facts to facilitate better judgement and analysis.
    The issue enjoys extensive coverage between 30th July and 6th August, 2007, aggregating to about 43 stories. The stories have been positioned on the most read pages-10 on page1, 14 on page 2, 6 on page 3 and 4 on the editorial page. The sheer magnitude of coverage is intimidating and mind-numbing.

    Over 60 photographs and images have been used.You can escape any amount of written matter but you cannot overlook photographs; large-size close-ups of a popular ‘Munnabhai’ cannot miss your attention. The pictures show a vulnerable, humble, grave-looking and buttoned down Sanjay Dutt. The big red ‘tilak’ on his forehead surely endorses his cause.

    The radius and variety of relevant and irrelevant stories served on your platter is immense and exhaustive. You have everything ranging from a flashback of the actor’s past, to a nostalgic family photo feature, to Sanjay’s court spectacle, to a glorified judge Kode, to the film fraternity’s sorry responses, to opinions from legal experts, to the amount of money riding on the actor, to tightlipped responses from political parties, to sympathetic editorials, to critical editorials, to Dutt’s prison experience, to the unpunished ’93 rioters, to hysterical fans, to a ‘Chicken Sanju Baba’ and on and on. The list is never-ending.

    The tone of the headlines, the use of words and phrases clearly reflects HT’s ‘pro-Sanju’ stance. Headlines reading- ‘I made a mistake 14 years ago’, ‘Don’t lose faith in yourself’, ‘Stormrider faces another night’, ‘Dutt in turmoil, calm over Mumbai’, ‘Hysterical fans say bye to Sanju’, ‘Sonia will stand by us, says Priya Dutt’, ‘Fans still throng prison, fever spreads to inmates’, ‘Dutt Unwell’, ‘Now, a Chicken Sanju Baba on your plate’- emphasize the same. HT plays the benevolent guardian of an orphan child. There is an air of grief, shock and nostalgia.

    A lot of newsreports have a very sympathetic overtone resembling that of a tabloid. Phrases like ‘broke down’, ‘burst into tears’, ‘cried on the way’ overshadow most stories. In one very ‘touchy’ article, the writer goes overboard bestowing the title of ‘Bollywood’s mightiest stormrider’ to Sanjay Dutt.

    HT manages to sell a well-spun story about a personal tragedy of a humble, God-fearing public hero who made a stupid, innocent mistake some 14 years ago and which no longer holds any relevance or significance. The hero thought from his heart and not his mind, and took to arms because of threats to his sisters.

    There are a couple of critical columns that question Sanjay Dutt’s character and acts, but remain more or less camouflaged. No criticism or inquiry ever surfaces on the front pages. Even the editor-in-chief, Vir Sanghvi admits feeling uneasy writing about the actor.The darker side of the actor remains well-guarded. There are no questions about his association with the underworld, no pondering over his drug addiction, drinking habits or chain smoking. The fact that he acquired weapons of army category, when he already owned three licensed guns is mentioned in passing. In the process, his crime seems justified and glamorized. It appears like an act of innocence by a 33-yr-old young boy. HT takes a joy-ride on Munnabhai’s goon-turned-God reel image and associates it with his real life.

    On the other hand, HT remains diplomatic and goes ahead glorifying and congratulating the Indian judiciary and judge Kode for a fair verdict. Both ways, the newspaper conveniently manages to please the reader. The reader feels sorry for a ‘poor apna Sanju’ but at the same time looks up in awe at the judiciary for the fair treatment.

    After bombarding the Sanjay Dutt saga for days and crowning him and judge Kode as heroes, the newspaper, finally finds the ‘real’ villains- the ’93 rioters. Extensive coverage of the Srikrishna Commission, Madhukar Sarpotdar and Shiv Sena leaders follows, which is well-timed and favourable for Dutt.

    In this regard, there is another (crude, impolite) observation that I would like to state. I feel HT and the Congress share a similar crux, that is, secularism. (In India, secularism means anything pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu). Its pro-Congress stand seems obvious and therefore, its pro-Muslim slant. Being the dominant English newspaper in the capital, it makes sense to be on the ruling party’s side.

    How does all this connect with the ‘Sanjay Dutt’ issue? Well, here is the link.
    Sunil Dutt was a respected Congress MP who did a lot for the Muslim community.
    After his demise, his daughter, Priya Dutt has taken his place. So, pushing the ‘poor Sanju’ story comes naturally. It also turns out to be a good opportunity to storm on the Shiv Sena and Hindu fundamentalists.

    Well, that’s purely my speculation. It may be incorrect.

    All in all, I suspect it was a brilliant paid PR campaign.”

  2. Hey Ankit! “All in all, I suspect it was a brilliant paid PR campaign.” I completely agree with you there. In fact this editor of cnn ibn is also a victim of that PR campaign. Its strange how people react to these articles and support the cause when it is baseless. I wish everyone would show the same alacrity in reacting to other issues which are of importance like, farmers suicides, power shortage, nuclear deal etc.

  3. Just arrested few high profiled criminals like Sanjay Dutt is not enough. What about Andhra Pradesh police who released Bala Krishna (cinema star and son of former chief minister NT Rama Rao)?

  4. Your right! Law and order is systamatically twisted in our country by those who have the monetary means to do so to suit their needs. In many cases even when there is massive evidence against an accused who happens to be an important public figure is let of the hook. An example in Chagan Bhujbal and his nephew in the Telgi Scam.

  5. anshultrivedi says:

    Aseem we have discussed this a billion times in college and now again. This just reiterates the class biases that still plague our judicial system. And this also puts up a case against judicial activism. In our polity Judiciary needs to be “reformed” and not be the “reformer”.

  6. Surprising though! Chief Justice Chagla the first Indian chief justice of Bombay High Court has said that when a judge sits in court he is only bible is the constitution. Whether by ideology he is a capitalist, socialist or communist. It shouldn’t matter.

  7. the raconteur says:

    After Solly Sohrabjee’s lecture on judicial activism, we can deduce that he also stood on very specific grounds for activism. He said that it is not under the authority of the judge to make the law, and the PIL should not be reduced to Publicity Interest Litigation. This is a problem these days.

    If such flaws persist in the judicial system we know that Sanjay Dutt was always going to get away as innocent. I talked in this matter with another lawyer, and he said that Judge Kode needs to be reprimanded and his sudden increase in wealth should be investigated. I think we can deem the matter between us as resolved. Sajay dutt verdict = Biased shit.

  8. the raconteur says:

    Looking forward to something new to read on your blog.

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