The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to justify its decision to grant actor Sanjay Dutt an early release from prison in the 1993 serial blasts case, PTI reported. Dutt had been sentenced to five years in prison for possession of arms, which were a part of the consignment used in the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
On account of his good behaviour in Pune’s Yervada jail, Dutt was released in February 2016 eight months before before his release date. The actor was on bail during the trial. Dutt had surrendered in May 2016 after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction.
Hearing a public interest litigation by Pune resident Pradeep Bhalekar, who had challenged the regular paroles and furloughs granted to Dutt when he was serving his sentence, a division bench of justices RM Sawant and Sadhana Jadhav asked, “Was the Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) consulted or did the jail superintendent directly send his recommendation to the governor?”
“Also, how did the authorities assess that Dutt’s conduct was good?” Justice Sawant asked. “When did they get the time to make such assessment when he was out on parole half the time?”
The state government was asked by the court to file an affidavit stating what parameters were considered and the procedures followed while deciding that Dutt deserved leniency. The next hearing will be held after one week.
Dutt had spent 18 months in jail during the investigation and the marathon trial. Mumbai’s TADA court had sentenced Dutt to six years’ rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 in July 2007. The Supreme Court had upheld the ruling in 2013, but reduced his sentence to five years. Dutt had surrendered to serve the remainder of his sentence. He was granted parole of 90 days in December 2013 and later again for 30 days during his imprisonment.