The agony of Sanjay Dutt
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Note: This column was first printed in Aug, 2007.
Sanjay Dutt's conviction and imprisonment have understandably caused anguish to his family members and his numerous fans. But remember that Sanjay had competent legal assistance, had a fair trial, during which he was on bail for considerable time, and was acquitted of grave TADA offences. His conviction under the Arms Act was not for possessing a harmless air gun but an AK-57 rifle, a 9 mm pistol and some cartridges, which, according to Judge Kode, were capable of mass destruction although Sanjay had not used them. It is felt that the sentence of six years rigorous imprisonment is harsh when the minimum sentence prescribed is five years, and it is said the court could have directed simple imprisonment. Sanjay has the right of appeal to a higher court, where he can challenge the judgment for all its supposed legal infirmities and also apply for bail.
No doubt Sanjay must be dealt with fairly and provided with every facility to which he is entitled, like any other person. But dispensation of justice and treatment of a convict cannot depend upon the person's personality or popularity. There cannot be celebrity justice delivery system. Law must be applied even-handedly. Bollywood is no exception and the sooner that is realised the better. Any preferential treatment of Sanjay would send a wrong signal and reinforce the pervasive belief that the system can be manipulated to serve the interests of the rich and powerful.
Unique strike by lawyers
Strikes by lawyers cause unnecessary hardship to the much-harassed litigants and are often directed against the wrong target. If a policeman beats up a lawyer without justification there is no earthly reason to strike against the courts instead of approaching them for strong action against the erring police personnel. Besides, these strikes tantamount to flouting the law laid down by the Supreme Court that, barring exceptional circumstances, strikes by lawyers are unlawful.
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- Former Ranji player among 3 more held