It is now certain that 56-year-old actor Sanjay Dutt, currently lodged in Yerawada Central Jail, will be a free man by the end of February, according to his lawyer.
Dutt’s lawyer Hitesh Jain said, “Based on the remission that he is entitled to, he will be released in February. The exact date will be decided by the jail authorities.”
The jail administration is now waiting for a state government order regarding an inquiry about Dutt reporting to jail two days late after a furlough.
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Since May 2013, Dutt has been serving the remaining 42 months of his five-year prison term in the Yerawada Central Prison following his conviction in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. His full sentence period ends in November this year, but if the remission of seven days per month he is entitled to is considered, he will be a free man by February-end.
The remission is granted based on one’s behaviour in the jail and good work he has done. In Dutt’s case, it would include his working for the jail radio station Radio YCP.
Dutt had stayed out of jail for 118 days on paroles and furloughs in the first one year of his term at Yerawada, prompting many to raise questions whether the government was granting favours to him.
One key hurdle between Dutt and his freedom was an issue about him allegedly reporting late to the jail after finishing his furlough in January 2015. As per jail manual, an inmate reporting late on furlough or parole is punished in the form of reduction in the remission. An inquiry was conducted and decision awaited in this regard.
State Prison Department head Bhushankumar Upadhyay said, “We have come to know that the government has taken a decision, but we are yet to receive any communication. The decision on date of release will be taken after that.”
Jail department sources said the inquiry had concluded it was a communication lapse on the part of jail administration and thus Dutt would not be penalised for the delay in reporting. The punitive action would have reduced Dutt’s remission by at least two to three months, said a Yerawada prison officer.
“It must be stressed that no application for reduction in sentence was made and the remission that he is being granted is as per the prison manual and no exception has been made,” said Dutt’s lawyer.