Court seeks justification for Sanjay Dutt’s early release from jail

A ghost from the past is back to haunt Sanjay Dutt, with the Bombay High Court on Monday seeking justification from the Maharashtra government on the early release of the actor from jail.

Sanjay Dutt was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment for illegal possession of arms used in the 1993 serial blasts. He was released from Pune’s Yerwada Central Jail in February 2016, eight months before his term ended on account of his good behaviour.    

A division bench of Justice RM Sawant and Justice Sadhna Jadhav directed the government to file an affidavit justifying its decision, stating what parameters were considered and the procedures followed while showing leniency towards the actor for his early release. The Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation by Pune resident Pradeep Bhalekar challenging the regular paroles and furloughs granted to Dutt during his sentence.

"Was the DIG, 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? When did they get the time to make such assessment when he was out on parole half the time?" the Court asked.

The court will further hear the matter after one week.

Dutt was first arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in April 1993 after being charged of accepting a delivery of weapons from terrorists involved in the serial blasts. During the investigation and the marathon trial, Dutt spent 18 months in jail.

In July, 2007, the TADA court sentenced the actor to six years' rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000, while acquitting him of charges related to the serial blasts. The actor challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court which upheld the TADA court’s verdict but reduced the sentence to five years in March 2013. Dutt surrendered to the authorities in May 2013 to serve the remainder of his sentence.

After walking out a free man last year, Dutt has already begun a second innings in Bollywood and has also wrapped up his comeback film, Omung Kumar’s ‘Bhoomi’.