New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI): With Press Council chief Markandey Katju appealing to Maharashtra’s Governor to pardon film star Sanjay Dutt in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, the government indicated Friday that the matter will be looked into and an “appropriate” decision taken once such a plea is made by the actor.
“Governor will use his discretionary power when there will be an appeal to him. He has the power to pardon. We should not comment on it,” Law Minister Aswini Kumar said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the authorities would take cognisance of the matter at the appropriate level.
“Justice Katju has been a very eminent judge of the Supreme Court. Whenever he articulates a position on an issue, people both inside and outside the government listen to it carefully,” Tewari told reporters outside Parliament.
“But there are various aspects to the issue and I am sure that those people within government whether at the state government or level of various other instrumentalities of government, who are seized with the responsibility of dealing with the issue, take cognizance of the statement and then, if required, formulate an appropriate response and then come back,” he said.
In an appeal to Governor K Sankarnarayanan, Katju, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, sought pardon for Dutt, whose five-year sentence was upheld by the apex in an arms case related to the 1993 Bombay blasts.
NCP General Secretary D P Tripathi also made a strong pitch for clemency to Dutt. The chief spokesman of the NCP, which is a part of the Congress-led coalition in Maharashtra as also the Centre, said that all constitutional remedies should be explored to give Dutt clemency.
“Governor of Maharashtra has the right and he should give clemency to Dutt, who has not been accused of any involvement in terrorist activities but illegal possession of arms,” Tripathi said.
However the PCI chief's suggestion did not appear to go down well with the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ally Shiv Sena.
Taking a dig at Katju, BJP member of Parliament Balbir Punj said, “Katju has forgotten that he is no longer the judge of the Supreme Court. He is PCI chairman.
“Supreme Court has decided as per the law. Court decision should be honoured otherwise it will be misunderstood that there are two laws - one for poor and another for the famous,” he said.
Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai said that Dutt has himself said that he will abide by the court decision.
Asked about his party's stand on the issue, he said: ”Shiv Sena wants to know what about the victims who lost their lives 20 years ago. The court has given the verdict and he should abide by that.”