New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Balbir Punj on Saturday expressed displeasure over the appeals seeking to pardon Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who was on Thursday sentenced to five years in prison for illegal possession of arms during the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai. “Such moves will set a bad precedence,” Punj said.

Balbir Punj’s remark came in the backdrop of Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju’s appeal to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan to pardon the actor.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Katju sought pardon for Dutt under Article 161 of the Constitution saying that he had not been found guilty of having played a role in the 1993 blasts and had suffered a lot. "Section  25 (1-A) of the Arms Act states that if a person has in his possession a prohibited weapon without a licence, he shall be awarded punishment of not less than 5 years imprisonment and not more than 10 years," Katju had said.

The BJP leader further added, “Katju’s appeal to Maharashtra Governor is not apt. He should remember that he is not a Supreme Court Judge now, he is PCI chief and he should perform his duties instead of intervening in such matters.”

Katju had on Thursday added that the power to pardon under Article 161 by the Constitution is different from judicial power as the Governor or the President can grant pardon or reduce the sentence of the court even if a minimum is prescribed.

“Everyone should respect the verdict of the Supreme Court,” Balbir Punj added.

Katju had also said that the Supreme Court had not found Dutt guilty for the 1993 bomb blasts but only found him guilty of having in his possession prohibited weapons without licence. "Surely, this is a lesser offence than murder. When the Governor of Maharashtra granted pardon to Nanavati, surely he can grant pardon to Sanjay," Katju said. He added though Dutt had committed an offence there are extenuating circumstances like that the event happened 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party too had also appealed for pardon to the film star. Samajwadi MP Naresh Agarwal had said that his party was of view that Dutt should be pardoned.


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