Press body chief of India defends his stance in the Bollywood star case

STORY: Chairman of Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, defended his stance with regards to granting pardon to Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt after the apex court pronounced five years of jail sentence to him in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.

Dutt been handed a sentence of five years in jail for possession of illegal weapons in a case linked to the 1993 Mumbai bombings that killed 257 people.

Katju had advocated for pardon from the president and governor of western Maharashtra state after the verdict, demanding the dismissal of his sentence.

Due to this, Katju faced the wrath from various quarters as they claimed that supported Dutt merely because of his prominence in society.

Katju told reporters on Sunday (March 31) in the Thane city of western Maharashtra state that in the near future an organization would be set up for a speedy and fair deliverance of justice.

“Some people said that I appealed for pardon for Sanjay Dutt, some people said that thousands of people are in jail, there are many under trial, but you haven’t said or done anything for them. There have been many wrong verdicts pronounced; many innocent people are in jail,” said Katju.

The organization would consist of prominent judges and common citizens of the country and the trial would take place in an impartial and unbiased manner.

Katju said that the time has come for the socially conscious citizens to take part in the judicial system of the country.

He added that the new organization would comprise people who would look into the cases and justice would be granted by direct appeal to the president, governor or court.

Katju said that it would take two to three months for the organization to come into existence.

“After talking to many people, we decided to form an organization, the headquarters of which would be in Delhi, and we would make branches in all the states. There would be many state units of this organization. It would take some two to three months time to set it up, which would consist of good people,” said Katju.

The Supreme Court rejected Dutt’s final appeal against a 2007 court judgement, which sentenced him to six years in prison, but reduced the term by one year.

In 2007, the actor was cleared of conspiracy charges in the Mumbai serial blasts but was found guilty of illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a pistol.

The sentencing has prompted a debate on whether the 53-year-old actor was judged too harshly, with many in the Bollywood film industry rallying behind him, calling for his pardon.