Is everyone - millionaires to paupers and laymen to celebrities - equal before the law? If yes, why people question the verdict of the Supreme Court (SC) on actor Sanjay Dutt in connection with the 1993 Mumbai blasts case? Should celebrities be treated like any other Indian citizens in court?
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a TADA court's order and ordered Sanjay Dutt, whom people fondly call Munnabhai, to serve a five-year jail term in connection with the 1993 Mumbai blast case, causing disappointment to people in the film industry and the public.
People like former Supreme Court judge and Press Council of India chief Markandey Katju, Bollywood actor and Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan and Tamil superstar Rajinikanth have come out in the open supporting Munnabhai.
Katju has sent a letter to the Maharashtra governor, requesting him to pardon or reduce the sentence on the actor, hinting that he was found guilty of possessing a prohibited weapon without licence and not found guilty for the 1993 bomb blasts.
Jaya Bachchan has said that she will appeal to the governor of the state to pardon the actor.
"I agree with everyone that he (Sanjay Dutt) has suffered a lot. I believe that he should not be given such a big punishment. He is a changed man now. I'm going to personally appeal governor and ask him to pardon him," Jaya said.
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth expressed his support for Sanjay Dutt, describing the news of his verdict as "disturbing".
The who is who of Bollywood from like Karan Johar, Priyanka Chopra, Hrithik Roshan and Bipasha Basu and several others took to twitter to express their support for Munnabhai. They are of the opinion that the actor doesn't deserve such a harsh punishment.
Sanjay was earlier sentenced to six years in jail after he was convicted by a special TADA court in 2007 for illegal possession of a 9 mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle. He was acquitted of the terror charges under the now defunct Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.
Mumbai was rocked by 12 bomb blasts on 12 March, 1993, killing 257 people and injuring more than 700 people.
The SC in a fresh hearing reduced the sentence of Munnabhai by a year, and the actor will have to serve three and a half more years in prison, having served 18 months in jail in the past.
The actor can, however, file for a review petition. He has been given four weeks' time by the apex court to surrender, following which his jail term will begin.
Dutt's lawyer Satish Maneshinde has said that the actor will abide by the order of the apex court.
Many, including people in power, may be questioning SC's verdict on the actor but there is only one law for every citizen of India, and the famous should be treated like any other layman.