Home Minister R R Patil Tuesday indicated that changes in the prison manual Act to check the misuse of parole facility would mandate convicts to serve additional term to cover up for the number of days availed to escape jail. A convict can avail maximum 90 days’ parole.
The government’s decision to allow repeated parole to actor Sanjay Dutt as triggered a debate, apparently forcing the home department to amend the rules. Patil said: “Frankly speaking, we cannot interfere in the sanctioning of parole. As per the rules, if a panel of doctors issues a certificate of any illness and convicts produce it to avail parole, it will have to be granted.” However, to ensure individuals are not misusing the parole to escape jail, the new rules will incorporate a clause whereby it will be mandatory to complete the scheduled tenure.”
Citing an example, he said: “If a convict has to serve six years’ term,and if he has availed 250 days’ parole beyond the sanctioned limits,he will have to serve additional 250 days.” Patil believes this will stop convicts from misusing the parole facility.
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The minister, however, refused to comment on the parole granted to Dutt. “It is difficult to ascertain whether it is a genuine cause or someone is misusing the rules,” he said.
The Opposition has slammed the government for granting repeated concessions to Dutt. State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said:”Sanjay Dutt is serving the sentence for a serious charge of illegal possession of arms in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case. If the government is granting him special privileges because he is an actor or well connected to a political family, it is unfortunate.”
Dutt is the brother of Congress MP Priya Dutt.