Centre seeks M'rashtra view on reducing Dutt's jail term

Centre seeks M'rashtra view on reducing Dutt's jail term

Jailor's comment on actor's conduct also to be considered

Centre seeks M'rashtra view on reducing Dutt's jail term

After President Pranab Mukherjee forwarding petitions seeking clemency for Sanjay Dutt, the Union Home Ministry has now sought the opinion of the Maharashtra government on reducing the sentence of the jailed Bollywood actor and two others convicted in the Mumbai serial blasts case.

The Supreme Court in March this year had reduced his sentence to five years from six years after he was found guilty of keeping an automatic rifle in his house, which was part of arms brought in by terrorists who carried out strikes in Mumbai in 1993. Soon after, there were demands for his release with Press Council Chairman Justice Markandeya Katju seeking pardon for the actor and two others, including a 70-year-old woman, on the ground that they have already suffered a lot.

Dutt, who was to undergo punishment for 42 months as he had already served 18 months jail term earlier, did not get relief from the apex court when he approached for commutation of his sentence.

Officials said the Home Ministry sought the opinion of the Maharashtra government after the President forwarded applications of Katju and a few others seeking reduction of their sentences. The state government has been asked to provide its opinion, the jailor's comment on the actor's conduct and other relevant issues.

The 53-year-old actor, who was lodged in Pune's Yerawada Central Jail, is currently at home on furlough, which was extended for 14 days. He had left Yerwada Jail on October 1.  Good conduct is one of the criteria for granting furlough, which is sanctioned from prisoner's accumulated leave.

Officials sought to downplay the seeking of a report saying it was part of routine procedure when such petitions come up before the Home Ministry.

Dutt is the son of late union minister and Congress MP Sunil Dutt, who was once a towering figure in Bollywood. The jailed actor's sister Priya Dutt is a Congress MP.

While seeking relief for Dutt, Katju had said that the arms, which were recovered from his residence, were not meant for any terrorist activity but for personal security. “In my opinion Sanjay should not be granted pardon merely because he is a celebrity. At the same time, he should not put to disadvantage merely because he is a celebrity. If he deserves pardon, he should not be denied just because he is celebrity,” he had written to the President.

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