A total of 144 days of remission has been granted to actor Sanjay Dutt who was convicted in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. The actor will be released from Pune’s Yerawada Central Prison on February 25.
Calculating the date of release, prison authorities have added four days of extra jail term on him for failing to return after his furlough lapsed.
Sources claimed that not even a single day of additional remission that an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above is entitled to grant had been granted to the actor. “Under the prison manual, officials from the rank of SP and above are entitled to grant remission to convicts under various heads like good behaviour, assisting and helping other convicts etc. This is a discretionary power but in case of Sanjay Dutt, no officer has exercised any such power,” a senior official said.
According to sources, 144 days have been waived off on the ground of good behaviour. “Every convict is granted seven days remission for every 30 days served, on the ground of good behaviour. In case of Sanjay Dutt, the same maths was applied. This is not an extraordinary ground, generally all the convicts get this remission,” added the officer.
In May 2013, the Supreme court had upheld the Tada Court’s sentence and awarded Dutt five-year imprisonment under the Arms Act for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. The actor is currently serving the remaining 42 months of his sentence. He had already served 18 months of his sentence as an under trial at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail.
On furlough, in the last week of December, Dutt had moved an application seeking an extension of 14 days of his furlough on health grounds. On January 8, 2014, when Dutt went to surrender before Prison authorities, there was a news flash quoting the minister concerned that said Dutt did not require to surrender since his application seeking extension of furlough was pending. This prompted the actor to ‘return’.
The jail authorities, however, had claimed otherwise and said that Dutt never reported to Yerawada jail on January 8. The incident created a row. To salvage the situation which had brought disrepute, the newly formed BJP government had ordered a probe.
“The inquiry did not find the actor guilty for flouting jail norms, but instead the error was found to have been committed by the jail staff. Extension on furlough is given based on police report and in this case the report from the Mumbai Police came at the last minute, causing a lot of confusion,” said another senior official from the Prisons Department who did not wish to be named. “We, however, slapped an additional jail term of four days as the actor returned two days late. So two days of punishment and two days of sentence term was added ,” added the source.
Meanwhile, A G Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case, has sought information on Dutt’s ‘premature’ release from Yerawada Jail. Perarivalan is serving a life sentence in Tamil Nadu.
Earlier this month, Perarivalan had sought a copy of the entire file relating to Dutt’s release and also details of his conduct in prison under the Right to Information Act. The RTI has been filed before the Yerawada Central Jail where the actor is serving his remaining term.
While senior officials say information sought by third party is never shared, Dutt’s permission will be sought before deciding on the application. “Since the information is sensitive and personal in nature, convict;s assent is sought before deciding on the pleas. However,going by the general rule such information is not parted with,” the officer added.