Days after a public interest litigation questioned the “frequent” parole or furlough of Sanjay Dutt, the Maharashtra government on Friday said that it can justify “every single minute” of parole granted to actor Sanjay Dutt. The Bollywood actor was sentenced to five years in jail in relation to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case and was granted an early release from prison in 2016. This prompted the Bombay High Court to ask if same rules were applied to every other jail inmates.
Parole is granted for special reasons while prisoners are entitled to furlough as a matter of right. Maharashtra Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said, “Not even for a single minute or second was Dutt out of jail in breach of law. We can account for every single minute that he was permitted to stay out of jail.” “We follow a strict, standard procedure for granting parole for every inmate. In times of RTI queries and public interest litigations, we take no chance,” he added.
Kumbhakoni said on Friday that Dutt’s concession was granted in July 2013 on account of medical emergencies in his family. “In cases of medical emergency, we take between 24 hours and eight days to decide on applications of parole. In Dutt’s case, we sent a police officer to interview the doctor who was to perform the surgery to ensure that this was a genuine case,” the Advocate General said.
During a hearing last year, the state had told another bench of the High Court that the actor earned early release by displaying exemplary conduct while in jail. The court had then pointed out that Dutt got parole just two months into his sentence and a furlough at the same time, a concession other convicts rarely get.
The division bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre directed the state to submit an affidavit detailing the steps followed while granting parole and furlough to an ‘average’ inmate. “You can show us that you follow the same procedure for all inmates... else we’ll have to issue directions,” the judges said, adjourning the hearing to February 1.