RTI Reveals That Central Govt Not Consulted for Dutt’s Release  

DSP said that the actor’s release was ordered as according to the remission rules of the Maharashtra Prison Manual.

3 min read
Actor Sanjay Dutt. 

In a Right To Information (RTI) that was filed, it has been revealed that the Central government was not consulted on granting remission of jail sentence to actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted in the Mumbai serial blasts case.

Dutt was one of the main accused and was sentenced to imprisonment for five years under the Arms Act. But on the condition of ‘good conduct’ the actor was granted remission of life sentence.

The RTI was filed by A.G. Perarivalan, who was convicted under the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case, sentenced to death penalty by the Supreme Court in 1998. His death penalty was commuted to life sentence by the Supreme Court in February 2014.

According to a report in The Hindu, the Deputy Superintendent of Yerwada Central Prison said that there was no record of the Central government’s orders as the case did not pertain to ‘premature release.’

Version of the Officials

Answering the questions put forth in the RTI, Deputy Superintendent said that the actor’s release was ordered as per the remission rules of the Maharashtra Prison Manual.

“There was no rule to consult either the Central or state governments for the release. The relief given to Mr Dutt was for “good conduct” as per the prison manual and not derived from Constitutional or CrPC provisions.”
Deputy Superintendent, Yerwada Central Prison

Perarivalan’s Argument

Perarivalan wrote a note to The Hindu saying that his argument is not to bring back Mr Dutt to the prison, but to make sure that fair treatment is being meted out to two convicts who fall under the same purview.

“Though both the cases pertained to an act of terror, the Centre was adopting a ‘pick and choose’ attitude when it came to granting premature release to prisoners.”
A.G. Perarivalan

According to S. Prabu Ramasuramanian, one of Perarivalan’s counsels, the state of Maharashtra was not legally allowed to grant any sort of leeway to Sanjay Dutt as he was convicted under the Arms Act.

The Union government alone was the appropriate authority to grant remission or suspension of sentence as per the Supreme Court guidelines.

In 2015 a five-member Constitutional Bench in the Sriharan alias Murugan & others vs the Union of India case, ruled that the Centre was the appropriate authority to reduce sentence in cases of offences under the Arms Act.

As both Dutt and Perarivalan were charged with act of terrorism, Perarivalan’s counsel argued that it isn’t fair that the actor got away with only five years in prison and Perarivalan has been in prison for over 26 years now.

“My aim is to amend the apex court judgment in the Sriharan case since it was not being followed in letter and spirit.”
A.G. Perarivalan

People’s Union for Civil Liberties national general secretary V Suresh said that prima facie it appeared that the state of Maharashtra exercised its power in an arbitrary and non-judicious manner.

“The State has strategically used the prison manual knowing well that the provisions under the Constitution CrPC are the only two laws in India to deal with the issue of premature release.”
V. Suresh, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

(With inputs from The Hindu.)

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