Ever seen a straight Banana? No? I found a rare one in the pic. Next time you buy bananas try and find one without a curve. Great democracies are known not just for the Constitution or Independence but for their justice systems and their citizens to accept that justice system. Last year Rajat Gupta was sentenced to two years in prison for an insider trading racket in the US. Tears were flowing like rivers in the Indian media. The court did tell Gupta he may have done a lot of good things but it has no option to sentence him for his crime. Unless he wins an appeal Gupta will indeed go to prison. There’s the case of former British MP Jeffrey Archer. He is also a very successful writer whose books have sold over 200 million copies. In 2001 he was sentenced to four years in prison for perjury in a 1987 libel case which he won. Archer served two years before being released and had returned the 5Lakh Pounds he had won in the libel case, with interest. To say that both these gentlemen are celebrities would be an understatement.
It is, therefore, not surprising that in a growing Democracy like India there are “Bendy Bananas” in the form of celebrities who are hell bent in turning India into a Banana republic. Theirs is the loudest clamour for mercy and pardon to Sanjay Dutt for his crime and 5-year sentence. Over the last decade the justice system in India has rotted along with other democratic institutions. In less than 24 hours of the Supreme Court verdict on SD a former judge Markandey Katju wrote an open letter to the Governor of Maharashtra to pardon Sanjay Dutt because he has suffered enough for the last 20 years. By that he means the 20 years it took to reach a final verdict in the Bombay blasts of 1993. Justice Katju… Er… let me correct that, it should be “Private Citizen Katju” (PCK), since he claims all his opinions now are as a private citizen and not as a former Justice or his current position as PCI Chairman. I wonder if PCK had even taken the trouble of reading the judgement before he appealed for a pardon. Having sent off that appeal PCK was on all media channels defending his worthless act and even walking off angrily from TV discussions. This is what PCK wrote in his appeal:
“The power of pardon under Article 161 by the Constitution is different from the judicial power. The Governor/President can grant pardon or reduce the sentence of the Court, even if a minimum is prescribed. Hence there is no doubt that the Governor can grant pardon/reduce the sentence”.
And among other things PCK also writes:
“The event happen in 1993 i.e. 20 years ago. During this period Sanjay suffered a lot, and had a cloud hovering over his head throughout. He had to undergo various tribulations and indignities during this period. He had to go to Court often, he had to take the permission of the Court for foreign shootings, he could not get bank loans, etc… Sanjay in this period of 20 years has through his film revived the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and the message of Gandhiji, the father of the nation”.
Ever read anything more idiotic and silly? But that was enough to send a whole lot of other parliamentarians and Congress members to scream “pardon”. Even legal-bimbos were talking about appealing to the Maharashtra Governor for the pardon. This is apart from the whole Bollywood mafia which feels Sanjay Dutt is a victim, innocent, made a foolish mistake, is a kind-hearted soul. I’m sure SD is all that to his friends and people who know him. The law is not in the movie-making business. This is what his friends and PCK don’t wish to acknowledge. And how did SD struggle and suffer for 20 years? Oh well, if you didn’t know, he made over 90 movies during this 20 year period. At a miserly average of 50 Lakhs per movie that would be 45 Crores! Super stars in Bollywood are paid in crores not lakhs though. I wonder why SD even needed bank loans. Never mind!
PCK is foolish and even moronic to suggest that SD has revived the memory of Gandhiji. I am surprised this is the nonsense with which he appeals for pardon (or maybe I shouldn’t be surprised anymore). Even though this moronic suggestion has to be laughed at and dismissed, PCK should know that the message of a movie is essentially a message of the Director and not the actors. The actors just play the part. It is the Director who tells the story through his vision and imagination. Never mind that. If indeed someone has made Gandhi popular across the world then it has to be Ben Kingsley. He won an Oscar award for that role so maybe according to PCK Kingsley should be provided complete and permanent immunity from any prosecution for any crime for a lifetime. And this comes from PCK, a man who claims he hasn’t seen a movie in 40 years (how can you possibly be an Indian if you haven’t seen movies for 40 years? For that alone PCK should be prosecuted) and has never met SD.
The media picked up the nonsense of PCK and peddled it all through the last three days. Naturally, the editors everywhere didn’t even bother to check if what PCK was saying was really factual or had any merit. They never checked if a Governor did indeed have the power to pardon SD. Well, in the movie I saw last evening (State of Play) the editor has a sign on her desk that says “Never trust an editor”. If you look at the headline and tweet by NDTV you would be led to believe SD was prosecuted for just having a small, illegal gun for self-defence. I guess by now everyone knows that SD ferried, possessed and latter destroyed weapons enough to start an attack quite similar to 26/11. He also had a large cache of cartridges and grenades. This is how our Bendy Bananas twist the story. But that isn’t important.
The SC has taken everything into account and pronounced its judgement. Does the Governor really have power under Article 161 to pardon SD’s crime? Here’s what Mahesh Jethmalani, another prominent lawyer, had to say:
"While it is the personal prerogative of any citizen of this country to campaign for a pardon for any convict -notwithstanding the dubious company the convict might have kept, both before and after the cataclysmic events that had shaken Bombay on 12th March, 1993, citizens are entitled to expect a modicum of elementary homework at least by such distinguished personalities as Messrs Katju, Ashwini Kumar and Manish Tiwari… The executive power of the state government does not extend to matters enumerated in the Union list of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution of India. Entry 5 in the Union List consists of arms, firearms, ammunition and explosives. The Arms Act is a statute enacted by Parliament. The Governor's power of pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution of India, accordingly, does not extend to the sentence of any person convicted under the Arms Act”.
It’s really hard to find a “straight” banana; curves seem natural to this loveable fruit. Therefore, the European Union decided how much curve is acceptable and passed a “Bendy Banana” law in 1995. Good democracies are worried about how curved Bananas should be. The sinking ones are turning into Bananas themselves. It specifies, among other things, “minimum standards for specific quality classifications of bananas (Extra, Class I, Class II). Only Extra class bananas have to comply fully with the shape specifications. Class II bananas, for instance are permitted to have "defects of shape"; Class I bananas are permitted only "slight defects of shape". Hmm! You see, we Class-2 bananas are extended some latitude for our ignorance and curves because we aren’t judges and celebrities. What about the Class-1 bananas? They are permitted only “slight” defects but in India these celebrities or “Bendy Bananas” seem to twist and grind the law out of shape all the time. The bigger the celebrity the bigger the twists and curves it seems. I have to agree with what the apple says to one such very “Bendy Banana” whose “opinions” are starting to stink.