Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Sanju Baba Touchstone

Why are we all getting so uptight about the rush of support for dear Sanju Baba, with film stars, politicians, former lawyers and former judges pleading that he be not sent to jail? Why can’t we blinkered Middle Class Morons (as one journalist friend described us) realise that these people are showing us the way to end the problem of overcrowded jails once and for all?
There are so many extenuating circumstances in his case:
# he has already spent 18 months in jail, it’s unfair to expect him to spend the remaining 42 months behind bars
# he has already gone through so much mental trauma, he couldn’t even get bank loans and had to get court permission to travel
# he is a good human being
# his parents were patriots
# he has a wife and three children, think of them
# he only got the weapons because he was feeling insecure about his family
# oh come on, he was just a immature kid when it all happened
After all, it’s not as if courts have never been influenced by the context of a crime when handing out a sentence. In December 2009, two Supreme Court judges reduced the death sentence pronounced on a brother who killed his sister's lower caste husband, and his father and brothers in 2004 in Bombay. The sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. The judges rationale:
. . .Caste is a concept which grips a person before his birth and does not leave him even after his death. The vicious grip of the caste, community, religion, though totally unjustified, is a stark reality. The psyche of the offender in the background of a social issue like an inter-caste-community marriage, though wholly unjustified, would have to be considered on the peculiar circumstances.
So if a sentence in an honour killing (shudder, shudder) could be reduced on grounds of that shameful factor called caste, why can’t poor Sanju be let off for all of the above reasons?
And why can’t the same logic apply to a whole lot of others?
# Manu Sharma, who shot dead Jessica Lal. The poor boy only wanted a drink. So what if it was after bar closing hours? Hadn’t that model heard of Indian Standard Time? Manu comes from a larger social milieu in which boys are pampered and given whatever they asked for. If not, they throw tantrums. It was perfectly normal behaviour on his part. He was pampered more as a child because he suffers from asthma. How can someone who suffers from asthma be allowed to stay in jail? What if his condition aggravates?
In any case, Manu is from a family that had served the Congress Party selflessly. His father was a minister and his uncle’s father-in-law a former President of India. Doesn’t this all show he came from a family of patriots? And if he is in jail, who is going to manage the discotheque he owns in Chandigarh. His earnings will be affected.
# Vikas Yadav, who killed Nitish Katara, his sister’s boyfriend. Please remember the social milieu from which he came. Daughters are not supposed to choose their own husbands. They can wear jean-pant and tops, study in management institutes but have a boyfriend and then want to marry him? That is terrible. Look at the trauma the young man must have gone through. It is perfectly understandable for him to want to kill that chota-mota afsar ka beta whom his sister fancied. He wanted his sister to marry right into a thaat-baat vala family. He didn’t kill her, did he? That shows he is a good and loving brother – upholding family values. Should a person be in jail for upholding family values?
# Santosh Singh, who raped and killed Priyadarshini Matoo, whom he had been stalking. Really, he was only stalking her because he loved her. Hasn’t Sharad Yadav said there is nothing wrong with that? Priyadarshini Matoo should have reciprocated his advances and then she would have been alive. After all, didn’t that girl in that TV serial, Pratigya, do the same? She finally fell in love with her husband. What trauma Santosh Singh must have gone through when Priyadarshini, a mere ladki, rejected him. And then on top of that she complained about him to the police. His father was in the force; imagine the humiliation the family must have gone through when a girl – A GIRL – complained about their son to his father’s colleagues. Bechare ka sar ghum gaya hoga. Please understand his mental condition when he committed the crime. And he is also a family man. After his acquittal by the lower court, he got married and had a child. What about his wife and child? He also had a good lawyer’s practice.
It was only because Enlightened Elite held candle-light vigils and vented their outrage on television channels (much like we Middle Class Morons are doing today) after Manu baba was acquitted that his case was also reopened and he was sent to jail.
Hell, if Sanju Baba was a kid at 34 years, all these people were twenty-something toddlers when they committed these crimes. How could they have known what they were doing? Didn’t Lord Jesus himself say, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?
Why should the alleged rapists of the December 16 gang rape victim be in jail? Look at the environment in which they grew up – one marked by poverty and lack of access to basic facilities, let alone proper education and employment. How are they to know that a young woman wearing jeans and a top and out with a young man at 9.30 pm is not ready to have sex with just about anyone? You expect them to know about things like consensual sex? Or a woman's right to her body? It is their mental conditioning caused by their social environment that made them commit the crime. So set them free.
Heck, there is a larger issue behind every crime. Why should taxpayer’s money be spent on jails to keep people who couldn’t help commit the crimes they did?
India’s jails are chock-a-block with over 2 lakh under-trials, a large number of whom are there for longer periods than the prescribed jail term for their offences. Get them out immediately.
Thank you Bollywood, Markandeya Katju, Digvijaya Singh, Amar Singh, Jayaprada and Shanti Bhushan. Now the money I pay in taxes won’t be wasted.


Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr said...

Inductive logic can be very erratic as this argument so convincingly shows. We need to argue from case to case, and also based on certain basic deductive principles. If Sanjay Dutt had killed any person, even a provocative phone-caller, then he would have had to pay the price for murder. There is no escape. Manu Sharma could have thrown tantrums as a pampered boy but once he shot dead Jessical Lal, then he crossed the clear red line. There are not many extenuating circumstances for killing somebody except in self-defence, and that has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. There is a political context to the Sanjay Dutt case, none for Manu Sharma and others. The middle class babas and bibis held their candle vigils for one of their own class, which is perfectly legitimate. That they did not do so for the children killed in Noida cannot be held against the well-heeled middle class. There is the economics of sympathy and empathy.

seetha said...

the fact that he didn't kill anyone does not take away from the fact that he did violate a law about illegal possession of arms. he has been convicted on that count. so he has to serve the sentence that is relevant to that law. just like the others i have mentioned have to serve the sentence for murder. all that i am arguing is that once someone has been sentenced - after exhausting all appeals to different levels of the judiciary - the person has to serve the sentence. regardless of who that is or what the crime is.
how does the political context become relevant? if a political context has to be seen for sanjay's case, why not social or cultural or other contexts for other offenders? if sanjay dutt has been wrongly convicted, let that be challenged in court. why bring in his character, his parents, his social background and all kinds of extraneous things into it?

sanjay shangari said...

All this is a self creation. It is a verdict of a court which has to be honoured by all concern and all this hype has been created for a person who has been covicted by a court of law. What about thousands of other persons who are languishing in jails on the same footing and even for no crime or even for want of security to arrange Bail for themselves. These Amarsinghs-----, Jaya Pardas---- and all and sundry have not taken any cudgels for them. It is a political gimmick. Power of pardon, remission can be exercised upon discovery of an evident mistake in the judgment or undue harshness in the punishment imposed, which is not the case in Sanjay Dutt's case as the SC has imposed the minimum prescribed sentence. Judicial decisions, legal text books, reports of Law Commission, academic writings and statements of administrators and people in public life reveal that the following considerations have been regarded as relevant and legitimate for the exercise of the power of pardon.
Some of the illustrative considerations are:
(a) interest of society and the convict;
(b) the period of imprisonment undergone and the remaining
(c) seriousness and relative recentness of the offence;
(d) the age of the prisoner and the reasonable expectation of
his longevity;
(e) the health of the prisoner especially any serious illness from
which he may be suffering;
(f) good prison record;
(g) post conviction conduct, character and reputation;
(h) remorse and atonement; (i) deference to public opinion. It is wothwhile to read the written submissions of Mr. Soli Sarabjee, Senior Counsel in the matter WP (Crl.) No. 284-285/2006
Epuru Sudhakar & Anr. vs. Government of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.