Actor Sanjay Dutt seeking an extension of his furlough has left the legal fraternity fuming.
Calling it a misuse of power, advocate Ashish Mehta said favours were being showered on the Bollywood actor by prison authorities. “This is discriminatory treatment. He [Dutt] has been convicted for a serious charge and several other people convicted of lesser serious charges are not given any furlough leave. Their applications are outright rejected,” Mehta told HT.
Advocate Abha Singh said the home department had announced that a committee will be appointed to probe allegations of favouritism, but nothing happened beyond that.
“This is just lip service,” said Singh. “Where is the committee, what inquiry has it done and where is its report,” she asked.
She said the information as to how many inmates had applied for furlough and how many were granted the leave must also be made available online. “It is time prison services are computerised and the procedures made transparent,” Singh said.
“A committee also needs to be set up to probe the rampant corruption in prisons,” she added.
Singh insisted that action needs to be taken against the police personnel who, without verifying with the doctors concerned, gave report about Manyata Dutt’s illness last year, and thus favoured the actor.
Advocate Jaideep Mane claimed the special treatment for Dutt was because he was an actor and politically influential. “Applications for furlough leave and parole are routinely being rejected by prison authorities. The law must be equal for all,” he said.
Advocate Filji Fredrick agreed that celebrities like Dutt should not get any special treatment. “There are several others who are languishing in jails and they should also get the benefit of the provision equally. In Dutt’s case, people say he is not a danger to society, but many others in jails also need to be allowed out and spend time with their families.”
Actor Sanjay Dutt was released on 14-day furlough on December 24. The actor is serving a five-year sentence for illegal possession and destruction of an AK-56 rifle before the 1993 Mumbai blasts.