Sanjay Dutt greets fans outside his residence after his release from Pune’s Yerawada Jail, in Mumbai, Feb. 25, 2016. (Shashank Parade/PTI)
The Bombay High Court said, Feb. 1, it had not found any violation on part of the state in allowing actor Sanjay Dutt to walk out of jail eight months before the completion of his five-year sentence in the 1993 serial bomb blasts case.
A bench of Justices S.C. Dharamadhikari and Bharati Dangre observed that the state government had succeeded in backing its claims of impartiality in the case with valid documents from the Home department.
The court, thus, disposed of a Public Interest Litigation challenging the remission of Dutt’s sentence, and the “frequent parole and furlough” leaves granted to him while he was serving his sentence in the Yerwada prison in Pune.
“We found nothing contrary in the records submitted by the state Home department and the explanation offered by the state. No violations or abuse of discretionary powers were detected,” the bench said.
The court, however, said the state must devise a scheme to ensure that all applications made by convicts for parole and furlough henceforth, are decided upon expeditiously and in a transparent manner.
“The public or the inmates themselves must not get the impression that the authorities grant favors in allowing parole and furlough,” the bench said.
The PIL claimed that while there were several other inmates who displayed exemplary conduct, yet Dutt was the only one whom the prison authorities favored.
The state government, however, denied the charge.
On a previous hearing, it had submitted a chart of the number of days, the dates that Dutt remained out of jail on parole and furlough, and the reasons for having granted him such leave, to show that it had followed due procedure.
The bench too noted that none of the inmates from the Yerwada prison had made any allegations or complaints alleging that their rights were breached and that undue favors were granted to Dutt.
It cautioned that PILs must not target an individual.
“A Public Interest litigation must not become a public(ity) interest litigation,” the bench said.
“The allegations made in the PIL have not been substantiated. Thus, this matter deserves to be closed,” the high court said.
Dutt was convicted for illegal possession and destruction of an AK-56 rifle in 1993 serial blasts case.
He spent a little over a year and four months in jail as an under-trial and about two-and-a-half years as a convict between June 2013 and February 2016. During the period, he remained out of jail for over five months on parole and furlough.
On Feb. 25, 2016 he walked out of the jail, eight months and 16 days before completion of his five-year sentence, since the state remitted his sentence based on “exemplary conduct displayed” during his time in the jail.