Mumbai: The Maharashtra government told Bombay High Court that it will send Sanjay Dutt back to jail if it’s found that any rules were flouted in giving parole to the actor.
Dutt, who was awarded 5-year rigorous imprisonment under an Arms Act case by the Supreme Court, completed his term and was released in February 2016.
The government was reply to a query in which the Bombay High Court had asked to submit a fresh affidavit explaining the criteria of good behaviour applied to Dutt. In its reply, the state government maintained that if rules were flouted in giving parole or furlough to the actor, then the government has no objection in sending him back to prison.
In the previous affidavit, the government had given a divisiono f the duration Dutt served in the jail, in which it excluded the period on which Dutt was on parole, and at the end showed that the actor completed his five-years of the term.
The total parole leave mentioned in the affidavit is four months and furlough leave is one month and 14 days.
The affidavit also mentioned that Dutt was ‘not found’ guilty of all the other offences for which he was charged and, subsequently, acquitted for all the said offences.
A division bench of justices had noted that Dutt, who surrendered in May 2013 in the Arms Act case, had filed an applications seeking to be released on furlough and parole in just two months time, i.e. in July.
The bench asked the state government that on what basis the jail authorities ascertained good behaviour and conduct within two months of the convict surrendering?
The court while questioning the state government further maintained that in other case, the jail superintendent would not have even forwarded the application and would have rather thrown it out.
However, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbakoni, came out in defence of the actor and told the court that Dutt was not given any preferential treatment by the jail authorities, while he served his term.
Following are some of the queries that were raised by the bench before the Maharashtra government:
We only want to know on what basis and criteria he (Dutt) was granted early remission on good conduct? How is this good conduct and behaviour ascertained?
On July 8, 2013, he (Dutt) filed for furlough and then on July 25 he sought to be released on parole. Both the applications were allowed and that too concurrently.
How did the jail authorities ascertain good behaviour and conduct within two months of the convict surrendering? Normally the superintendent of jail would not even forward the applications. The authorities would throw out the application.
The court has observed that in several cases furlough and parole are not given even when the mother or father of the convict is on death bed.
We do not want to set the clock back in time. We are not for a moment suggesting that he (Dutt) go back to jail. But we only want such issues to be streamlined so that in future no questions are raised.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation, that questioned the ‘undue’ favours through paroles and furloughs granted to the actor when he served his sentence.