Having successfully taken India’s longest trial to its conclusion, Justice Pramod Kode knew why he did what he did. “We don’t punish individuals, but the element of criminality in them. The punishment should eradicate this criminality and make the convict fit for living in a civil society,” he told HT, referring to the six-year sentence given to Sanjay Dutt, in his first interview after sentencing in the 1993 blasts case.
Justice Kode said the actor was cooperative throughout, like most other accused, in the past 14 years. Reacting to the sentiment that the sentence was too harsh, he pointed out that the punishment for the charges Dutt faced ranged from five to 10 years. “What I gave him was well within that limit,” Justice Kode said. If Dutt got six years, he said, others similarly charged got five- to seven-year terms.
When asked what went through his mind as he handed out the sentence, Justice Kode said it was like punishing any other accused.
Keeping in mind the enormity of the case, Justice Kode said he categorised the offences into three broad sections — conspiracy, commission of terror under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and other offences. Punishments were handed out accordingly, he said. “It was a mammoth task,” Justice Kode said. “I am immensely satisfied that I could do it to the best of my ability, and with everybody’s cooperation.”