Congress leader Digvijaya Singh Saturday came out in support of the demand to pardon Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who has been sentenced to five year’s imprisonment under the Arms Act in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
He said when Dutt had committed the crime, of illegally possessing weapons like AK-56 rifle and ammunition, he was of “an impressionable age” (he was 33 at the time) and there was an impression that his father, Sunil Dutt, was being “targeted for supporting the cause of Muslims”.
“I agree with the demand. I have total sympathy for him,” Singh told The Sunday Express. “Issue is that he was convicted under the Arms Act for which he has already been in jail for 18 months. He is not a habitual criminal. He is the son of a very eminent person. Sanjay Dutt was then at an impressionable age and there was this impression that his father was being targeted for supporting the Muslim cause. So he may have done it.”
Asked why law should have different yardsticks for Dutt and other convicts, he said, “Law is for everyone. If he is pardoned, that will be under law only. There have been many instances where people have been pardoned under this law.”
While the Congress has officially refrained from commenting on this issue, Singh appeared to be reflecting the views of a large section of the party. The Dutt family has been very close to the Nehru-Gandhi family and the equations remained unchanged even when Dutt had joined the SP. In 2007, days after getting bail, Sanjay Dutt had come to 10 Janpath to meet Sonia Gandhi.
Thanks to his sister and Congress MP Priya Dutt’s persistent pleading with the Nehru-Gandhi family, some eminent legal brains of the Congress had once been engaged to vet the petition filed by him in the Supreme Court against the TADA court ruling, party sources said.
“Why should the party react to it? Whatever people are saying is their personal opinion. Law always takes its own course. The party does not make any comment on it,” said Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi when asked about the demand to pardon Dutt.
Congress in-charge of West Bengal and Jharkhand Shakeel Ahmed had tweeted on Friday, “If someone has unintentionally committed a crime without harming anyone and is genuinely repenting for his/ her actions, should be pardoned.”