Friday, March 22, 2013

Sanjay Dutt: A victim, a criminal or a naive offender?

Supreme court of India finally declared its verdict on 1993 Mumbai bomb blast case, it took almost 20 years after the incident to complete all legal formalities and deliver justice (TADA court, supreme court, I am sure still there will be further delay). Sanjay Dutt was one of the accused in the long list of people accused doing something which was related with occurrence of those blasts. He was not convicted for involvement in the actual terror plot of bomb blasts but was found guilty for possession of illegal arms and for that TADA court sentenced him 6 years in prison. Supreme court upheld that verdict but reduced the sentence to 5 years (minimum in such cases), he already spent 18 months in jail so if the situation remains as it is then he is supposed to to back to jail for three and half years more. Since the verdict about Sanjay is declared there are lot of reactions from film fraternity and other eminent people about this sentence and whether he deserves this harsh (as per their opinion) punishment or not.

Sanjay Dutts entire life has been like a roller coaster ride, there are so many ups and downs in his life that I think there may not be any other celebrity who had experienced so many ups and downs in their life. Starting from his drug addiction, death of his mother (famous actress Nargis), his failed relationships, successful career as a actor, conviction in terror plot, then jail term, back in movies, delivering two most successful and admired movies of Hindi cinema (Munnabhai series), getting married again, getting back family life which he dreamed of his entire life and now possibility of going back to jail, his life itself is like some thriller movie where you never know what might happen next. But this post is not about him or his life but about the reactions generated from various quarters after supreme court delivered this verdict about him.

From those reactions it's very clear that there are two sets of laws in any country or at least same law is interpreted in two different ways, I am not talking only about India but in any country, one for rich and famous and one for poor or common people. I am not saying that rich and famous can get away with anything they do because of their money and fame, NO, its not true and this is not what I mean, rather sometimes they get punished just to set an example and get in trouble because of their celebrity stature which is again wrong and should not happen. But even keeping that in mind if one can take a look at Sanjay's case one can clearly see the sympathy generated for him and large outcry for punishment being too hard and request for his pardon from various quarters of society is clearly because of his image as a rusty but gold hearted man. I am also a fan of his movies, I really loved his role in some movies, specially in Munnabhai series, those are my all time favorite movies, but I am not a blind follower or a crazy fan of anyone, so even though I feel bad for him I can not claim that judiciary has been unfair to him.

Every convicted person has a family, many of them have kids, many terribly regret the crime they committed, in many cases the convicted person is the sole earning member of that family, that means entire family depends on him for their survival, some times their crime is trivial but they lack resources and money to fight for justice and are left with no option but to face the punishment. All these incidents happen daily in country like India and everyone including me, all these celebrities, politicians, stars know about this, specially film industry clearly knows about these type of incidents because they make movies based on some of these stories but even after all this they still feel that only Sanjay should be pardoned, then what about many others like him?. I can understand if they are speaking as his friend, well wisher or relative they have full right to show their support to him, feel sympathy for him even after knowing that he committed a mistake which is punishable according to law. Actually all friends and family members of most of convicted persons feel that way and behave like this so they are not doing anything radically different, everyone likes to defend their closed ones. But they should at least have courage to say that we know that he did a mistake which is punishable by law but still we are going to support him because he is our friend and we love him no matter what, put a clear picture, please don't try to paint him as a 'victim' because he is not a victim. At the same time Sanjay should not get harsher treatment just because he is a big star, he should have right to explore all legal options which are available to any common man to defend himself, but they should not make his case as special case because of his celebrity status this will be like playing cruel joke on people who can not access these facilities just because they are not rich and famous.

I am not writing this to suggest what should be done and what shouldn't, whether Sanjay Dutt is guilty or not or what is proper punishment for his crime or mistake is not my job to decide. I am sure law will take its own course, in fact it did, it was long (20 years) process to deliver justice. We need to do something to make this process faster, 20 years is very long period and many things can change in that time and can add complications to the case. It will be interesting to see in which direction things proceed in his case, I am sure he is strong enough to deal with these setbacks in his life but at the same time we need to think about many people who are not as lucky as him to get so much support but also deserve a second chance in their lives, can we be supportive to them also, if yes then let's do it and let's have a proper mechanism to do that and if not then why not? and why this case is special then? Let this incident be an opportunity to improve some things in our society and not the time just to take sides, show loyalties or play politics.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

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