Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
President should automatically pardon convicts below 35 and above 50 years!

Justice (retd) M Katju's wants Sanjay Dutt pardoned. So, why not pardon all those below the age of 35 and above the age of 50 at the time of committing a crime, if they are not terrorists, requests former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, in an open letter to the President

Here is an open letter written by Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, to Pranab Mukherjee, president about the ‘pardon for Sanjay Dutt’ episode that is being played continuously in the media by the Press Council chairman and few MPs and celebrities…


Dear Mr President,

I understand that worthy Members of Parliament (MPs) have sent petitions to you to use your powers of pardon under Article 72 of the Constitution. This plea is also reported to have been made by the Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI), which is a statutory authority, and Ministers. The framers of the Constitution gave the President unfettered power to pardon any convict, without any reasons. It is also true that the Constitution did not specify who could ask for pardon.


However, Shri Markandey Katju, a former judge of the Supreme Court, and chairman of PCI would not ask for pardon without any reasons. He is reported to have stated that since Mr Sanjay Dutt was not convicted under TADA, he was not a terrorist. Besides, he has stated that since the trial has taken 20 years, and Mr Dutt was less than 40 years of age at that time, he should be pardoned. To maintain consistency, he has also stated that Smt. Zaibunisa should also be pardoned since she is over 70. Though Mr Dutt has in a dignified and logical manner stated that he is not seeking pardon, this mounting cacophony from lawyers, MPs and the head of an important statutory authority may lead you to consider using your powers to pardon.


Considering the impressive voices asking you to show mercy, you may be tempted by Portia’s lines:

“The quality of mercy is not strain'd, 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven 
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: 
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes….

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, 
It is an attribute to God himself; ”


to consider being blessed by showing mercy after some months.


The constant repetition to you to show mercy and gain the attributes of God may continue for months. Since I too was a statutory authority a few months ago, I would like to add my advice to this.  The fact that our Courts take decades to decide cases finally is well known. Everyone, including the Courts has convinced themselves that this can only deteriorate.


If you use the power of pardon this time, consider using it in a logical manner, which should not result in allegations of partisanship. By the logic given by Justice Katju, cases in Courts can take fifteen to twenty years, and humanitarian grounds demand that senior citizens should not be able to suffer in prison. On the other hand, people below 35 can make mistakes due to lack of maturity.


Taking this together, and to maintain consistency of action, I plead with you to consider recommending that all below the age of 35 and above the age of 50 at the time of committing a crime should be automatically pardoned under Article 72 of the Constitution, if they are not terrorists. It would look bad if you pardoned terrorists.


There are no conditions in the Constitution when the President can use this power, and I believe if you use it in the manner suggested above, it will also reduce the burden on the judicial system. You could consider this act to be in larger public interest.


The reduction of cases in the Courts, will lead to establishing the rule of law in our Nation, and Citizens will not have to complain any longer that ‘Justice delayed is Justice Denied.’


You may then find justification in using the power of pardon under Article 72 in a Historic manner.


Yours truly,

Shailesh Gandhi

Former Central Information Commissioner



Vinay Joshi

4 years ago

Markandey Katju, J; PCI,CM, was in Bombay on 30th, to deliver the Justice M.C Chagla, Memorial Lecture.

He had sought an appointment with the state CM, week in advance, it was declined.

It probably seems to be nemesis of the University of Bombay, not knowing what MC Chagla stood for!

As per his talk on the subject of 'Ancient Indian Jurisprudence & Modern Jurisprudence', he contradicts himself.
Irrespective these few outbursts lasted for 'the subject' only for say an hour or less. The subject he is supposed to talk.

Then for virtually hour and a half he took dig at Anna Hazare & Kejriwal to put forth his own interpretations in the said lecture.

In the said lecture he has stated that 'India is backward a country',coz they believe in 'godmen'. He mixed cast of franchise on communal & cast basis.

Further he goes on to question Kejriwal as to 'which cast his party represents'?

He expressed that 'seeking publicity - is vulgarity', controversies chase him.

I think in the first place MC Chagla may have shuddered in his grave with the fraternity persona talking & NOT UPHOLDING HIS PRINCIPLES!? [J; Chagla's].

The learned counsel & later Justice MC Chagla never ever would have dreamt of such a pardon though J; Katju has not spoken about it in thre said lecture & had skirted it on the sidelines.

Further two more jocular persons arrive in Bombay - ousted SP stalwart Amar Singh & RS,MP Jaya Pradha, -- petition the Mah, Guv, knowing very well a futile an exercise. It's not the state subject.

The Guv; promptly forwarded the said petition to the HMin, after hearing them in person.

IF ANY PARDON, it will be mockery of justice,jurisprudence & of the third estate.

Astutely J; Katju has avoided it.

If any pardon under Art.72, the power follows a will of the wisp. Krishna Iyer, J; had stated it in 1980 [Maru Ram.] Are there others equally placed in the justice? Clemency can be endless a list.

Neither the constitutional text nor principle prevents the Constitutional Head, to examine case[s] but will be constrained to put a ‘singular’ or ‘select’ pardon.

The convict Sanjay, case is weak against a capricious pardoning law.

The President Hon. Mukherjee was in Bangladesh, a file was send to him about appointment of state Min of Textile, so the LS questions could be answered.

The Hon.Prez, send it back, reprimanded the executive, signed it only on his return to India.


P.S. no point in further discussing, i'll put up in please do respond to that.

No doubt that J; Katju had given interventionist judgement's; but now he is not same. The convict Sanjay was to join SP & wearing red cap had his own retraction! WHY?


4 years ago

My sentiments exactly


4 years ago

My sentiments exactly

nagesh kini

4 years ago

In entire agreement with Shaileshbhai.
The Hon.ex.justice needs restraint.


4 years ago

Now, the Govt., should take decisions which are really for the benefit of the public-real benefit means real benefit, not otherwise/PROPOSALS should be such or the ruling party should desist from wrong proposals, actions speak themselves.

A S Bhat

4 years ago

It is a pity that a former judge of the supreme court of India is issuing such statements left right and centre. May be he has his own reasons,

Amit Bhargava

4 years ago

Wow ! Food for thought... Mr. President.


4 years ago

They are actually moles those advocating such absurd proposals are planted by the ruling party to save their skins.


4 years ago

Are politicians so much afraid that they are coming with absurd ideas through backdoor, seeing that what is the acceptability of the backdoor proposal, feel all have lost mental balance-made pardon a mockery.

Mukund Parikh

4 years ago

Law should be applicable equally irrespective to anything.Guilty has to be punished. It is generally believed that law doesn't punish any innocent. Any such suggestions shall be surely mis-used.
Mukund Parikh
[email protected]



In Reply to Mukund Parikh 4 years ago

Will it apply equally, heard that might is right and seeing that is happening.


4 years ago

An excellent piece of satire about Justice Katju's uncalled for benevolence. I wish Mr. Gandhi made some comment, in similar lines about the "Finish the Consumer Movement" penned after being denied justice by the Supreme Court.


Vinay Joshi

In Reply to Vaidyanathan 4 years ago

Dear Mr.B Vaidynathan,

Yes, the aspects is direct question [if you read my two earlier posts]My open letter.

1] PCI,CM, who propped him up?
2] As PCI CM, who propped hin to issue the st?
3] He has freeway to state 'its his st!

Mr.Vaidya, kindly excuse me i didn't write back to you, i'll send you a mail.



4 years ago

No other compliment can be as eloquent as the left handed compliment Shri Shailesh Gandhi has paid to Shri Katju. The hollowness contained in Shri Katju's arguments for pardon to Sanjay Dutt has been brought out succinctly. Well done Mr S Gandhi.


4 years ago

POUND OF FLESH....???...ALA....SHYLOCK....!......PORTIA ,....WHO?//

Suman Mukherjee

4 years ago

//The article was written sarcastically to ridicule the pleas for pardon. I was trying to show, that if pardoning Sanjay Dutt was considered, it would result in pardoning everyone under 35. It was also meant to draw attention to the fact that powerful criminals should not be let off//

Mr.Gandhi, I ridiculed your take earlier, because I do not move with fanatic crowd, I hold my own opinion, in all circumstances. I would continue to do the same, as I had done earlier. I am a Hindu Brahmin so my thought process might be different than a Bania (Business Commuity)---if we speak of genetic factors. This might sound racial, but I have spoken the truth. Every looks at the things, through the glass they are made to wear since childhood. This has lot of do with ones upbringings and their cultural background. Anyway, this was just another point which I wanted to highlight.

Now coming back to the main topic let me state that when you used the word "Criminal" for Sanjay Dutt, instead of a more sober word, "Convict", it actually portrayed your intention and your motive for writing such a puerile article, after occupying such a high position.

Now let me come to the main point. If you say none can be pardoned, then it is better we go for a constitutional mandate to satisfy some insane, who wants to convert our democracy into a military state where the chance of pardon by the state gets abolished. At least the majority of this country, I believe would be satisfied and since democracy does give importance, to majority rule, some of you can thump your chests.

Now coming to this case specifically, we can say that, in spite of persons like you getting cheers and jeers from a section of the audience, I feel, that pardoning Sanjay Dutt will do more good to the country than not doing the same. He is not an ordinary citizen and cutting of his productive power will be CRIME and WASTE of talent, according to me. His films invariably bring foreign exchange, which is so necessary now when India is facing huge CAD (Current Account Deficit). Also, his films give lot of employment to people, which indirectly brings tax to the government exchequer. If he was an ordinary criminal, with no work no credibility, then the things would have been different. Your lateral thinking has made, everyone possessing a contraband gun, same. Are all GANDHIs and BASUs in this world have the same calibre and temperament? Just ask yourself.

Instead of looking at the points at what are the causes that led Sanjay Dutt going for such extreme steps, you unfortunately took the much easier/short cut childish route, which was unusual for a person adorning such high chair. You should have presented a different view, away from the masses.

India is technically illiterate 90%, so many will go for your take, when even in the US, there are voices, who talks of such brutal methods of jurisprudence.

Sanjay Dutt is not a criminal in the true sense of the term. He actually kept the arms, just for his personal security, but in the process, he broke law. Hence, his case should be taken differently than those who worked for the cause of Bombay blast and executed it.

Yes, it was a blunder for him, to go for such dangerous weapons instead of asking the government to beef up his security, but there should be an end to this nonsense of looking every case of the arms act, with the same eye.

It is because of this kind of situations that our Constitution has special provisions, where something out of box can be done by the legislatures.

Our democracy is not all about Judiciary only, there is also, Executive and Legislature. If you want have a lame-duck democracy, then sorry, you can have your thoughts to yourselves. But we the free thinking people will always oppose such Stalinist views, which would made India into an Islamic state, which supports Beheading, Cutting of limbs, Stoning, and all those ghastly acts, which the world has rejected long back.

I therefore, again reject your hackneyed and sub-standard piece, and humbly and respectfully ask the Governor of Maharashtra to PARDON Sanjy Dutt and show that our democracy is vibrant and kicking.

I would therefore, ask only to go back to the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, etc, to understand the essence of Hinduism. 1000 years of Slavery of Islamic Rulers and British has made us forget the real essence of Hinduism.




In Reply to Suman Mukherjee 4 years ago

If promised pardon, the hardcore criminals languishing in jails and those hiding abroad would bring back huge foreign exchange to reduce the current account deficit substantially. Similarly, the looters of national wealth and stashing black money abroad would be willing to do so. And by the way, how Sanjay Dutt's case is different from other first time convicts?

Nitin Sanzgiri

In Reply to Suman Mukherjee 4 years ago

Dear Mr. Mukherjee,
Going by your logic a dishonest businessman who violates laws and does not pay his taxes should not be punished because he employs several people and earns foreign exchange for the country. You are "cutting off his productive power" aren't you?


In Reply to Suman Mukherjee 4 years ago

Respected Mukherjee

Nathuram Godse was a brahmin !


In Reply to Suman Mukherjee 4 years ago

Wow Mr.Suman Mukherjee, even being Brahmin, your thoughts of counting foreign exchange is like BANIAS only. Thank GOD, India is technically illiterate 90 percent & not like rest of you 10 percent. Anyway Mr. Shailesh Gandhi, no point in putting your matter in front of these 10 percent people. We always look forward for good work done by you


4 years ago

Looks like you have a lot of tube light followers. But a great sattarical article. But the President himself falls in the Katju category

North Korea says ready to strike US bases in Pacific and South Korea

North Korea said in the event of any 'reckless' US provocation, its forces should mercilessly strike the US mainland, military bases in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea

North Korea, in a direct response to the US' threat to use nuclear capable stealth bombers, has ordered preparations for rocket strikes on the US mainland and military bases in the Pacific and South Korea.


North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said the orders, issued at an overnight emergency meeting with top army commanders, was a direct response to the US for using nuclear-capable US B2 stealth bombers in their on-going joint military drills with South Korea. 


The official Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying, "In the event of any 'reckless' US provocation, North Korean forces should mercilessly strike the US mainland...military bases in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea”.


With tensions soaring on the Korean peninsula, two B-2s flew training bombing ran over South Korea on Thursday to underline US commitment to its military alliance with Seoul in the event of any aggression from the North.


Kim argued that the stealth bomber flights went beyond a simple demonstration of force and amounted to a US 'ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost’.


The flight came as part of annual drills between the United States and South Korea, which North Korea each year denounces as rehearsals for war.


B-2 jets, which dodge anti-aircraft defences, bombed targets in conflicts in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The US rarely acknowledges B-2 flights to the Korean peninsula, which remains technically at war.


A public indictment could shed light on CIA’s secret program

Human rights researchers years ago identified a man who may have been held secretly by the CIA, and whose whereabouts were unknown. It appears that man is now in custody in New York

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn unsealed an indictment Wednesday charging Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun with six terrorism-related counts.

The announcement that Harun is in U.S. custody in New York may also shed light on a small part one of the most secretive aspects of U.S. counterterrorism operations during the Bush administration: What became of terror suspects held by the CIA in its network of “black-site” prisons around the world? Or disappeared into foreign cells in extraordinary renditions?

With their indictment of Harun, prosecutors offered a basic account of how the 43-year-old Nigerian – described as “a prototype Al Qaeda Operative” – spent the last decade. He fought U.S. forces in Afghanistan, prosecutors said, before leaving for Africa, where he allegedly conspired to bomb U.S. diplomatic facilities. Harun, also known by his alias Spin Ghul, eventually wound up in Libyan prison for six years before he was released amid the turmoil of the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi.

Did the U.S. know that he was in Libya, and did they play a role in his detention? Did the CIA work with the Libyans to then obtain information from him?

Testimony from an alleged former CIA detainee, a leaked document from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, and evidence from cases of others rendered to Libya suggest that might be so.

A spokesman for the CIA said that the agency “does not, as a rule, comment on matters before the courts.” The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York declined to provide information beyond what was announced with the indictment. A lawyer for Harun, David Stern, also declined to comment.

The CIA has steadfastly refused to comment on the fates of most former detainees, publicly accounting for only 16 people of the roughly 100 the agency has said it once held. The U.S. has successfully dismissed lawsuits over rendition and asserted that much about the CIA program is still classified.

President Obama, for his part, ordered the CIA black-site prisons closed when he took office. (He allowed renditions to continue, with pledges of greater oversight of the countries where suspects were sent.) But still, little about the program has been officially disclosed.

Human Rights Watch and other organizations, as a consequence, have been trying to piece together the details of the CIA’s detention and rendition programs for years. In 2009, ProPublica published a list of more than thirty people believed to have been held by the CIA whose whereabouts were still unknown—including a Spin Ghul.

Now and then, the fates of these detainees have emerged in the press or through rights groups, particularly since the upheaval caused by the Arab Spring.

Joanne Mariner, a senior researcher with Amnesty International who worked on identifying former detainees for Human Rights Watch, said that the information in the indictment of Harun lines up with what she knew about Spin Ghul. Operating in an arena of such secrecy, “when all this was going on, we'd get these little clues and bits of information. It's really quite interesting to see confirmation that these people did exist,” she said.

Marwan Jabour, who alleges he was held in Afghanistan by the CIA (“Ghost Prisoner,”) told Human Rights Watch that he was shown photos of Harun (whom he called Ghul) during interrogations, and was led to believe he was in U.S. custody. Jabour had met Harun in Pakistan in 2003, and described him as an African who spoke Arabic. Jabour was held from 2004 to 2006, during which time, according to this week’s indictment, Harun was arrested in Libya.

A 2007 document from Guantanamo, released by Wikileaks, cites detailed information provided by Harun. For example: “Ghul also noted that Saudi authorities had detained Saudi Al Qaeda members…Ghul remarked that these two individuals were Al Qaeda members since approximately 1995.” In the document he is identified as both Harun and Ghul, and described as a “Nigerian [sic] national and Al Qaeda operative.” The citations refer to CIA intelligence reports, but don’t specify where Harun was or when he provided the information.

Since Qaddafi’s fall, evidence has emerged of close communication between the CIA and Libyan officials during the Bush administration, despite the Qaddafi regime’s reputation for torture and brutal prison conditions. Documents found in the abandoned office of Libya’s former top intelligence official refer to the rendition of several people to Libya and the sharing of information. Other “missing prisoners” believed to have been held by the CIA turned up in Libyan prisons. Some of them have given detailed accounts of detention in U.S. custody before being sent there.

“The U.S. delegated a lot of its detention capacity to abusive governments like Libya— they were perfectly happy to have Libya holding these people,” says Mariner.

If the U.S. did know he was in Libya, it took authorities some time to catch up with him after he gained his freedom in June 2011.

After his release, Harun told prosecutors, he was placed on a ship full of Libyan refugees bound for Italy, where he was arrested for assaulting officials onboard. Italian authorities agreed to extradite him to the U.S. last fall.

Harun is the latest in a recent string of terror suspects brought to federal court from overseas by the Obama administration – including Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law Abu Gaith, who pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan to conspiring to kill Americans earlier this month.

Some Congressional Republicans have insisted that such cases are better prosecuted in military commissions like the one at Guantanamo. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said of Harun: “the administration has once again decided to forgo an extensive intelligence interrogation and instead bring an enemy combatant immediately into the federal court system.”

According to court documents, Harun was interviewed by U.S. officials last September in Italy, with his Italian counsel present. He waived his Miranda Rights before those sessions. The indictment against him remained sealed because the government believed “he may be in a position to provide information…relevant to the national security of the United States.”

Harun is scheduled to appear in court in Brooklyn this afternoon, and could face life in prison. Whether or not his trial reveals more about the CIA’s role, at the very least, Harun can be crossed off the list of the missing.



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