L A T E S T      N E W S

Governor has power to pardon if Sanjay Dutt
appeals: Law Minister

NEW DELHI: With Press Council chief Markandey Katju asking Maharashtra Governor to pardon film star Sanjay Dutt in 1993 Mumbai blasts case, the government on Friday indicated that the matter will be looked into and an "appropriate" decision taken once such a plea is made by the actor.

"The 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 will 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 the cognisance of the statement and then, if required, formulate an appropriate response and then come back."

In a letter to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan, Justice Katju sought pardon for 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 Sena.

Taking a dig at Katju, BJP MP Balbir Punj said, "Katju has forgotten that he is no longer the judge of the Supreme Court. He is the PCI chairman.

"Supreme Court has decided as per the law. Supreme Court decision should be honoured 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." — PTIBack






Bollywood rallies behind Dutt

NEW DELHI: Bollywood community on Friday reacted with dismay and rallied behind popular actor Sanjay Dutt after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction under Arms Act and ordered him to report to prison within a month.

Actor Jaya Bachchan, who is a member of Rajya Sabha, said she would meet the governor of Maharashtra state to plead for Dutt's cause.

"I am going to appeal to the governor that Sanjay be pardoned. He has suffered a lot and is a changed person," Bachchan, the wife of legendary actor, Amitabh Bachchan, said on Friday.

Top Bollywood stars and directors tweeted their support for Dutt after the court sentenced him to five years in prison for illegal possession of weapons supplied by Mumbai's crime bosses responsible for a 1993 terror attack that killed 257 people.

Leading actors Ranbir Kapoor and Vidya Balan were among the first of a stream of Bollywood A-listers to visit Dutt's home to offer sympathy and support to the actor and his family.

Film director Mahesh Bhatt tweeted: "Heart broken. Just heard that Sanjay Dutt has to go to jail for 5 years. I expected mercy! Alas it did not happen."

Dutt, 53, originally had been sentenced to serve six years in prison on the charge of possessing an automatic rifle and a pistol that were supplied to him by men subsequently convicted in the bombings. He served 18 months in jail before he was released on bail in November 2007 pending an appeal to the top court.

Dutt has maintained that he knew nothing about the bombing plot.

Dutt is the son of Nargis and Sunil Dutt, two legendary Bollywood stars. They fell in love in 1957 during the making of an early blockbuster film "Mother India." Sunil Dutt later entered politics, and served a Congress party lawmaker and a federal sports minister.

The trial into the Mumbai bombings lasted more than 18 years, during which Sanjay Dutt pursued his acting career, acting in several blockbuster films and earning a huge fan following. He gained enormous popularity for a series of Hindi films in which he played the role of a reformed thug who follows the teachings of nonviolence advocate and Indian independence hero Mohandas Gandhi.

Trade analysts said Dutt's jail term will be a huge financial blow for the industry.

Two of Dutt's films are in their final stages and are being readied for release, but several other projects are midway and are likely to be delayed as Dutt serves the remaining three and a half years of his sentence. — APBack





Italian marines issue
Dignity of Indian judicial process upheld: Manmohan 

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday welcomed Italy’s decision to send back its two marines to face trial in India, saying the integrity and dignity of Indian judicial process has been upheld.

“I am happy that the integrity and dignity of the Indian judicial process has been upheld,” Dr Singh told the media in the Parliament House complex hours after Italy reversed its decision of not sending back the marines who are facing trial for killing two Kerala fishermen in February 2012.

Earlier, when Italy refused to send back the marines, Dr Singh had warned that the move will have consequences for bilateral relations.

Terming Italy’s decision of March 11 as “unacceptable”, he had accused that country of violating “every rule of diplomatic discourse”.

He had urged the Italian authorities to respect the “solemn commitments” given to the Supreme Court and return the two accused — Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone — within the four-week timeframe which expires on Friday. — PTIBack







Delhi terror plot foiled, suspected Hizbul terrorist held 

NEW DELHI: A suspected Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist was arrested from Uttar Pradesh with police on Friday claiming that they have unearthed a plot to create terror in the city ahead of Holi and are looking out for more operatives who might have sneaked in.

The alleged operative Liaqat Ali, who is from Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, was on his way to Delhi in a train when he was arrested from Gorakhpur Railway Station, police sources said.

He was produced in a court on Thursday which sent him to police custody for 15 days.

Sources claimed that he told them that some weapons were kept for him in a guest house in near Jama Masjid area in Central Delhi.

A raid was conducted and an AK47 and ammunition were recovered.

The police is on the lookout for more operatives who might have sneaked into the city.  — PTIBack






HC allows media coverage of gang-rape trial

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday allowed the media to cover the day-to-day trial of the Dec 16 gang rape case in the Saket fast-track court in New Delhi.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher, allowing the plea of journalists seeking open trial instead of an in-camera one, directed the fast-track court to allow access to one representative of each media house.

“The court will allow access to one representative journalist of each of the accredited national dailies. The petitioners before me represent some of them,” the order said.

The court however, imposed some restrictions on the media, saying it would not disclose the name of the victim or her family members or witnesses cited during the trial.

The reporters will exclude parts of proceedings that the court instructs them not to report, Justice Shakdher said, setting aside the media advisory issued by the police not to report the court proceedings and order of the trial court. — IANS







Lok Sabha adjourned for the day, to meet on April 22

NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day on Friday after it failed to transact any business for the third consecutive day following uproar over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.

The adjournment marks the end of the first part of the Budget Session. The remaining part of the session would start from April 22, after a four-week recess.

As soon as the House assembled for the day, members of DMK, AIADMK, CPI and CPI(M) trooped into the Well raising slogans against the government for “not making efforts” for a stronger resolution against Sri Lanka over the ethnic Tamils issue at the UNHRC on Thursday.

Members from Tamil Nadu, barring those from the Congress, were in the Well shouting slogans and waving placards which read ‘We condemn betrayal of India against Tamils at UNHRC’

This was countered by Congress members from Tamil Nadu, who shouted back saying that the Congress has always worked for the Tamil cause.

The House was first adjourned till noon and then for the day after laying of papers amidst vociferous slogan-shouting.

Some Congress members were also seen waving placards against “police atrocities” on pro-Telangana activists in Andhra Pradesh.

Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath was seen having a word with Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj apparently on ensuring that the House functions.

Key legislations like the Food Security Bill and Securities and Exchange Board of India (Amendment) Bill were on the Lok Sabha’s agenda, but could not be taken up. — PTI




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