Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Today’s Bombay Times has an article by Pritish Nandy titled LUCKY SANJAY! BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS? It begins like this: Let me first start with a confession. Sanjay Dutt is a friend. Like the TADA court judge, I too believe he is no terrorist and that is why I repeatedly argued in his defence both in the media and before Bala saheb whose government released him from jail even as the congress wallahs were celebrating Sunil Dutt’s acute embarrassment. Like everyone else, I too am relieved that the TADA court has acquitted him of all charges under TADA. He will only be prosecuted now under the Arms Act for being in possession of illegal arms.
But let us now look at the judgements meted out to his friends and associates by the same court . . . . . .
. Nandy then goes on to list the people who supplied arms to Sanjay Dutt, subsequently removed them from his house . and the person in whose house they were stored till they were destroyed at his behest. Two of these were found guilty on the same score as Sanjay Dutt; others, under TADA, and so may get lifers.

And then, Nandy writes:
Frankly, I am no legal expert but I believe justice overrides all legal issues . . . . . . , (and) most people – particularly muslims who are currently feeling targeted, and with good reason – may see this as a grave injustice, that a man who ordered weapons, paid for them, kept them, and ordered them to be destroyed – got away free under TADA while those who only followed his instructions . . . . . . . .should be punished for aiding and abetting terrorism.

I find this a very muddle headed piece. Nandy starts by saying that he is so positive about Sanjay Dutt not being a terrorist that he turned no stone unturned to get him out of the can. Then, where is the miscarriage of justice if the TADA judge too found him innocent of terrorism charges? had he been found guilty by the TADA court for aiding and abetting terrorism, THAT would have been a miscarriage of justice.

As Nandy himself points out, like Sanjay Dutt , two others were also absolved of TADA charges where as four were found guilty under TADA. So Dutt was not the only one who was absolved of TADA charges. So it is not a case of soft-peddling of justice in Sanjay Dutt’s case alone, as insinuated by Nandy.

The situation appears very clear to me. Among the people who helped Dutt to acquire arms, some were part of the terrorist network while others were those who indulged in the illegal act of transporting weapons to make a quick buck. Both are crimes, but of varying gravity.

Don’t anyone mistake me for an ardent fan of Sanjay Dutt. I am not. But, it made me and many like me happy at seeing the judge exercising his discretion when he absolved Dutt and two others of TADA charges on being convinced, like nandy, that Sanjay Dutt was no terrorist. Most certainly, it is better than a judge throwing up his hands helplessly and saying that ‘I know this man is guilty, but the case was not presented well enough for me to convict him!’

If justice is , to quote nandy, about fairplay and even handedness, I think this is one case where the judiciary braved being labeled partisan and went ahead to pass a rational judgement.

The ides of March have come – but not yet gone. The sentences have not been passed yet. Is Nandy hoping to have some impact on that? Then what was all that song and dance about being Sanjay’s friend and being dead sure that he is not a terrorist?

Very disappointing to see a person like Mr. Nandy playing safe – trying to appease everybody – Sanjay, Balasaheb, and the muslim community! True, he took a pot shot at the congress – perhaps he was sure it wont boomerang –at least not hard enough to hurt.

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