Sanjay Dutt on Monday faced opposition from certain unexpected quarters in his attempt to step into his father’s shoes for a career in politics.
Apart from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), there were at least three applications filed by people from Lucknow who opposed his plea for a stay on his conviction to make it possible for him to enter electoral politics.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan reserved the verdict after hearing the arguments of senior counsel Harish Salve for the actor and others who opposed the plea.
Appearing for these applicants, senior counsel Soli Sorabjee, K.T.S. Tulsi and Prashant Bhushan argued that staying Dutt’s conviction for illegal possession of arms would send a wrong signal to the society and encourage criminalisation of politics.
“Those who break the law should not make the law,” Tulsi told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Balakrishnan, adding that it would be against the intention of Parliament, which enacted the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
According to Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, a person convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more is disqualified from contesting parliamentary or assembly elections.
Appearing for the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium too opposed the plea of Munnabhai, sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by a Mumbai TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities [Prevention] Act) court. “It is not his fundamental right to contest elections… It will be against public policy to allow a convicted man to contest polls,” he said.
“He would not suffer irretrievable or irreparable injury if his plea was refused,” he added.
Dutt, the Samajwadi Party’s candidate from Lucknow, raised legal points and referred to his family background to seek relief.
Salve took the court through the evidence to make out a case for stay of his conviction. He said Dutt had possessed arms as there was a threat to the life of his father the late Sunil Dutt and other members of his family after the January 1993 riots.
Dutt has sought suspension of the conviction and asked for parity with BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose conviction in a road rage case was stayed in 2007.