HC gives Maharashtra two weeks to justify Dutt's early release
The Bombay High Court on Monday granted two weeks' time to the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit to justify its decision to grant actor Sanjay Dutt early release from prison in the 1993 serial bomb blasts case.
Dutt was sentenced to five years in jail for possession of arms, which were part of a consignment used in the blasts that ripped through the city on March 12, 1993, killing as many as 257 people and injuring over 700 others.
The actor, who was on bail during the trial, had surrendered in May 2013 after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction.
Dutt was let out in February 2016, eight months early, on account of his good conduct while in Yerwada prison.
A division bench of Justices R M Savant and Sadhana Jadhav had last month directed the state government to file an affidavit explaining the grounds on which Dutt was granted early remission.
The direction was given on a public interest litigation filed by Pune resident Pradeep Bhalekar, challenging regular paroles and furloughs granted to Dutt when he was serving his sentence.
Additional public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde today told the high court that state Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni would appear in the matter, and sought time to file the affidavit. The bench then adjourned the petition for further hearing after two weeks.
The high court had on the last hearing sought to know from the government what parameters were considered and the procedures followed while deciding that Dutt deserved leniency.
During the investigation and the marathon trial, Dutt spent 18 months in jail.
On July 31, 2007, a TADA court in Mumbai sentenced Dutt to six years' rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced the sentence to five years following which he surrendered to serve the remainder of his sentence.
During his imprisonment, he was granted parole of 90 days in December 2013 and later for another 30 days.