Why Sanjay Dutt musn’t be treated differently

The 1993 Bombay blast trial has finally come to an end, at least for now. The biggest news from it is that 12 people have been awarded the death sentence and Sanjay Dutt has been sentenced to 6 years in jail under the Arms act for possessing an AK-56. The quantum of punishment under the Arms act is between 5 and 10 years. He got 6. Harsh, really?

A rich, famous and powerful person has been convicted and sentenced. It doesn’t happen too often in our justice system. Maybe the Dutts never tried to manipulate the system. But some of the arguments against the verdict have been quite irrational to say the least.

We are a nation of strange people. We always seem to lament that our justice system does not punish the high and mighty, but when it does, we cry foul and call the sentence too harsh! Mr Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, our very own control freak, calls Dutt’s crime unintentional. I’m sorry, an AK-56? Unlicensed! Obtained from friends of the underworld. I don’t think it was unintentional at all.

I have nothing against Sanjay Dutt. He must have changed and become a better human being after that. But unlike what a few say, that’s no reason to let him go unpunished. What makes Sanjay Dutt special? I’m sure out of the 100 sentenced in the case many would have changed and become better persons. Why is nobody calling their sentences harsh? Does starring as a Munnabhai make Dutt above the law?

Then there is the argument that Sanjay had suffered a lot over the course of the trial, so he does not deserve such harsh punishment. Well, again, I’m sure all the 100 odd accused have suffered a lot of agony and mental trauma over the years. Should we let them go as well? What about all the other unknown, unnamed convicts who have suffered over the course of their trial and who repent the crime they have committed, do we let all of them go as well? What happens to ‘you do the crime, you do the time’? All the arguments given by Dutt sympathizers are not legally tenable and sends the concept of equality before law for a toss.

Again, I have nothing against Sanjay Dutt. He is a great actor and I’m sure a wonderful human being. But a union minister coming to his defence and questioning the courts decision is just not done. They must realize that Sanjay Dutt isn’t the only person convicted. I’m sure he isn’t the only person who has reformed and repents what he did. If the court had let him off on these ground than it certainly would have been a sad day for the Indian justice system.

As I write this, CNN-IBN has a show on with Rajiv Masand telling us all how great a person Dutt is and subtly questioning if the verdict was fair! I lost a bit of respect for CNN-IBN after they spoilt Harry Potter for me by revealing a bit of the plot, but then, that’s another story altogether.

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