The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to justify its decision to grant actor Sanjay Dutt early release from prison in connection with the 1993 serial blasts case, reported news agency PTI. Dutt, who was earlier sentenced to five years in jail for possession of arms that were part of the consignment used in the blasts, was let out of Pune’s Yerwada jail in February 2016 on account of good conduct.
A division bench of justices R M Sawant and Sadhana Jadhav was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Pune-based Pradeep Bhalekar challenging the regular paroles and furloughs granted to Dutt when he was serving his sentence. The actor had surrendered in May 2013 after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction.
The court directed the state government to file an affidavit stating what parameters were considered for letting Dutt out eight months early and the procedures followed while deciding that Dutt deserved leniency. “Was the DIG, Prisons, consulted or did the jail superintendent directly send his recommendation to the governor?” Justice Sawant asked.
“Also, how did the authorities assess that Dutt’s conduct was good? When did they get the time to make such assessment when he was out on parole half the time?” he asked. The court will hear the matter again after a week.
During the investigation and the marathon trial, Dutt spent 18 months in jail. On July 31, 2007, the TADA court in Mumbai sentenced him to six years’ rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000. The apex court upheld the ruling in 2013 but reduced Dutt’s sentence to five years, after which the actor surrendered to serve the remainder of his sentence.
During his imprisonment, Dutt was granted parole of 90 days in December 2013 and later again for 30 days.
(With inputs from PTI)