In what could be perceived as a ray of hope for the other accused in the 1993 Bombay blasts case, Press Council of India chief Justice Markandey Katju has written in his blog today that that he is seriously considering appealing for a pardon for 71-year-old Zaibunissa Kazi. (Read Justice Katju's blog here)
The illegal weapons that got Sanjay Dutt into trouble with the law also scarred Zaibunissa's life. While the actor was convicted for receiving weapons from the underworld, Zaibunissa's crime was that some weapons from that cache were kept at her house for a few days.
Both Zaibunissa and Sanjay Dutt were charged under TADA or the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act for aiding and abetting a terrorist act. Zaibunissa was given five year rigorous imprisonment under the Act. The TADA charges were later dropped against the actor, but upheld against Zaibunissa.
Justice Katju now writes, he prima facie thinks she deserves pardon, though he is collecting more material about her before he makes up his mind. He says, not just Sanjay Dutt, even the others convicted deserve a pardon.
The former judge, in his blog has also clarified that he wasn't appealing for Sanjay Dutt because he is a celebrity. He goes on to write that once the Supreme Court held that Sanjay Dutt was not involved in the 1993 bomb blasts, one could not go on harping that many people were killed and wounded in those blasts, in which the actor had no hand.
Last week, Justice Katju came under fire for speaking up for the actor after he wrote to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan to pardon Sanjay Dutt, whose conviction in an arms case related to the 1993 Bombay blasts was upheld by the Supreme Court.