Dasmunsi’s remark on Dutt sentencing personal: Congress


New Delhi : The ruling Congress party Wednesday distanced itself from Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi's remarks on actor Sanjay Dutt's sentencing in the 1993 Mumbai bombings even as the minister reasserted his sentiments over the verdict.

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"The minister was expressing a personal opinion and there is absolutely nothing wrong in it," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here.

"It was an emotional remark," Singhvi said referring to Dasmunsi's written statement Tuesday in which he expressed "deep shock and surprise" at the special anti-terror court's Tuesday decision to sentence Dutt to six years' rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act.

Dasmunsi had said that all efforts should be made to approach and appeal at the highest judiciary to help the actor get "relief" as Dutt had already "suffered long enough". Dutt, who had been acquitted of terror charges earlier, was held guilty under the Arms Act for illegally acquiring weapons.

Dasmunsi's remarks on the verdict left many Congress leaders red-faced as, according to them, a minister was not expected to make a comment on a judicial verdict.

Singhvi said that his party did not want to react officially to the anti-terror court's verdict nor did it want to agree with Dasmunsi.

"It (the verdict) is an appellant process in which he can avail of the bail process. The bail process will be decided on the basis of hard core documentary evidences," said Singhvi, a lawyer by profession.

"The Congress party does not have any stance or an opinion on an individual's issue. Nor does he (Dutt) need our comment," he said.

Meanwhile, Dasmunsi repeated his Tuesday's statement.

"Whoever does not feel compassion for Sanjay Dutt should go to a cardiologist because he would have a heart problem," Dasmunsi said after launching a booklet prepared by Maharashtra-based Lokmat group of newspapers titled "Taking the UPA Report Card to the Masses".

Justifying his remarks Dasmunsi said: "As minister in charge of matters relating to the film industry, I am concerned with the well-being of those working there."