The Bombay High Court on Thursday ruled that there was no violation of rules by the Maharashtra government in releasing actor Sanjay Dutt over eight months before completion of his five-year jail sentence in a case related to the March 1993 Mumbai blasts.
The court also said that the state government had successfully backed its claims on impartiality in the case with valid documents submitted by the Home Department.
A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati Dange delivered the verdict while disposing off a PIL challenging the remission in Dutt's sentence, as also the "frequent parole and furlough" leaves granted to the actor while serving his sentence in Yerawada Central Jail, Pune.
"We found nothing contrary in the records submitted by the Home Department and the explanation offered.. No violations or abuse of discretionary powers were detected," the bench said.
Mumbai activist Pradeep Bhalekar, who filed the PIL, had claimed that while there were many other inmates with exemplary conduct, only Dutt was favoured by the jail authorities for granting parole/furlough.
Even as the state government denied the charge by the petitioner, the court said the state government must come up with a scheme to ensure that henceforth all convicts' applications for parole or furlough are decided expeditiously and in a transparent manner.
It pointed out that the public or the inmates should not gather the impression that the authorities grant favours in allowing them parole and furlough.
The court also warned that PILs must not target any individual or become a "publicity" interest litigation, since the allegations made in the PIL were not substantiated and the matter deserved to be closed.
The state government had already submitted full details of the dates and number of days Dutt stayed out of jail on parole or furlough, the reasons for granting the leave and the procedures followed.
Dutt, who was sentenced to undergo the jail term after being convicted under the Arms Act for illegal possession and destruction of an AK-56 rifle, had spent around one year and four months in prison before trial and another two and half years as a convict between June 2013-February 2016.
During his incarceration in Yerawada Central Jail, the actor was granted bail or furlough for a little over five months on various grounds.
Finally, he walked out a free man on February 25, 2016, eight and half months before completion of his sentence, with the remainder remitted on the basis of his "exemplary conduct" while in jail.