Mumbai, July 3 (IANS) The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to file its affidavit in two weeks justifying the decision to grant Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt early release from jail in the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
Additional Public Prosecutor Prajakta Shinde also told the court that the government had decided to appoint Advocate-General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to argue the case. She sought two weeks time, which was granted and the matter posted for further hearing after a fortnight.
The orders by a division bench comprising Justice R.M. Sawant and Justice Sadhana Jadhav came during the hearing of a PIL filed by Pune-based activist Pradeep Bhalekar.
Bhalekar has challenged the series of paroles and furloughs granted to the actor while he was serving the remainder of his five-year sentence in Pune’s Yerawada Central Jail (YCJ) and his subsequent early release
On June 12, the High Court had directed the Maharashtra government to file its affidavit and explain what parameters were considered and procedure followed while deciding the matter.
On July 31, 2007, a Special TADA Court in Mumbai had sentenced Dutt to six years’ imprisonment and fined him Rs 25,000 under the Arms Act for possession of banned weapons which were part of the consignment used in the March 1993 blasts which claimed 257 lives.
During the trial, he was out on bail. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction but reduced the sentence to five years.
Dutt surrendered in May 2013 and was sent to serve the remainder of his sentence in YCJ, Pune, having already spent 18 months of imprisonment as an undertrial.
While serving his prison term, Dutt shot into headlines frequently for getting paroles or furloughs – totalling to approximately over four months, for reasons like tending to his ill wife and his daughter’s surgery.
Finally, on February 25, 2016, he was released eight months before the scheduled date of completion of his sentence on grounds of good conduct.