Governor will use discretionary powers if Sanjay Dutt appeals: Law Minister

With Press Council of India (PCI) chief Markandey Katju urging the Maharashtra Governor to pardon film star Sanjay Dutt, who has been convicted in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, the Government on Friday indicated that the matter will be looked into and an “appropriate” decision taken once a plea is made by the actor.

“Governor will use his discretionary power when there is an appeal to him. He has the power to pardon. We should not comment on it,” Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the authorities will take cognizance 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,” Mr. 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 the cognizance of the statement and then, if required, formulate an appropriate response and then come back.” Mr. Tewari added.

In a letter to Maharashtra Governor K. Sankarnarayanan, Justice Katju sought pardon for Mr. Dutt, whose five-year sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in an arms case related to the 1993 Bombay blasts.

However the PCI chief’s suggestion did not appear to go down well with the BJP and its ally Shiv Aena.

Taking a dig at Mr. Katju, BJP MP 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. Supreme Court decision should be honored otherwise it will be misunderstood that there are two laws — one for poor and another for famous people.”

Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai said, “He (Dutt) himself has 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.”