Much ado about nothing. These are the only four words that one can possibly think of to describe what is occupying the media when it comes to the verdict passed by the Honorable Supreme Court on the 21 March 2013, upholding the conviction of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt.
Can’t we have a system wherein a person is punished based on his/her popularity and on factors as to whether he/she is a good family person or not, a good father/mother, husband/wife and carries a reputation or not. Worst, let every person have his own fan club and the strength and influence of the fan club will decide whether a person should ultimately be punished for crimes committed and proven beyond doubt or not?
Does my proposal sound ridiculously stupid? Well, that’s exactly the kind of feeling that one gets as we witness the drama that unfolds in the society around Dutt’s conviction. The whole issue of pardoning a hardened criminal like Dutt and setting aside his conviction despite evidences being found against him and various eminent personalities like ex-Judge Markandey Katju, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, MP Jaya Bachchan and many others in the brigade sound extremely ridiculously stupid.
And it is disheartening to see that a society comprising otherwise intellectual individuals witnesses it dumbfounded and only talks about criticizing the campaign-de-pardon of Sanju Baba (as he is fondly called) at coffee tables and tea joints.
As if ridiculous stupidity had its limits, the arguments being given in favor of the pardon are laughable at best and despicable at worst.
1. If Dutt was an innocent kid at the age of 33, when he committed those crimes, then why do we have 18 years as juvenile age limit? Why not 34?
2. If Dutt has a family to support, then all such convicts who have family must be granted pardon, why double standards?
3. If his sister and Congress MP, Priya Dutt can talk of having harsh anti-male laws to incarcerate innocent men as under-trials, merely because a woman complains against those men, then why not her thrice convicted brother?
4. If we can even consider the fact that whether we can pardon Dutt or not even after he is convicted thrice, then why don’t we first acquit all such men who are still trapped in false and vexatious matrimonial litigations filed by greedy and manipulative wives without trial or evidence?
5. What type of example are we trying to set here by wasting our time debating whether we should pardon a thrice convicted criminal found guilty of offence corroborated by clinching evidence beyond doubt while the country is losing one innocent married man every 8.5 minutes leaving behind a family to be supported?
6. If Kanhimozhi cannot be even granted bail as an under-trial with the argument that she has a family, why are we using the same argument to pardon a thrice convicted criminal?
7. If ex-judges and sitting ministers talk of pardoning convicted criminals merely because they are popular, why do such judges and ministers have problems when movies expose their misdeeds, ill-conceived conspiracies and scams on the screen?
8. What kind of judicial independence are we talking of and why do we keep on upholding the sanctity of the judicial system of India when journalists, reporters and people with half-baked knowledge of law are shouting about setting aside a judgment passed after due deliberation, weighing of evidence and conducting a fair trial?
9. Why are we so uncomfortable seeing our reel-life heroes as real-life villains and embrace truth?
10. Did we apply the same logic/argument/emotions for other convicts, under-trials and arrested people who are just ordinary citizens, devoid of any fan club, popularity or public fame to back with?
These and many other questions must be answered before we can even think of pardoning Dutt. And till the time we don’t solve these questions, let Dutt go to jail and serve his sentence. Life will be much easier with an example set rather than a debate won.