Sometimes you’re given star treatment, sometimes you aren’t. Even as the Yerawada prison authorities are busy filling out the paperwork for releasing Sanjay Dutt on parole in a few days, divisional commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh has affirmed that he had sent back the actor’s parole application to the Mumbai police for re-verification in September this year. He made the revelation, giving weight to the claim that Dutt is treated like any other prisoner following media reports that some jail officials are star-struck at having Dutt in their midst.
Deshmukh, who is the sanctioning authority to grant parole or furlough to jail inmates in five districts, including Pune, said that Dutt had submitted his plea for a month’s parole in September. “Dutt had mentioned his wife was suffering from chest pain and that he wanted parole to be with her during her medical test,” said Deshmukh. “But of late, we have observed that in many cases, inmates submit bogus medical certificates. Hence, they need to be verified.”
So Deshmukh referred the application back to the Mumbai police so they could check the authenticity of the medical certificates. In Mumbai, the assistant commissioner of police (ACP) of Khar division strongly endorsed the actor’s request, Deshmukh claimed. “The application came back to me on November 26 with a strong recommendation from ACP Shivaji Kolekar, requesting me to approve it,” he said.
Deshmukh said that the divisional commissionerate receives 200-250 parole pleas in a year and Dutt’s was treated like any other and this, he said, was the precise reason why it was sent for a recheck. A major controversy had erupted on December 6, when Deshmukh had approved Dutt’s parole, even though his supposedly ailing wife Maanayata was spotted attending two Bollywood bashes. MiD DAY on December 7 had reported on how Maanayata had been spotted at two Bollywood parties the night before Dutt was granted parole, based on his wife’s illness.
“My approval for any parole application is based on two things. First is the jail superintendent’s report on the behaviour of the prisoner, and second is the personal verification by the police authority concerned of the reason cited for seeking parole. However, the recommendation from the ACP was very strong and, therefore, I sanctioned Dutt’s parole,” said Deshmukh.
The 53-year-old actor was lodged in the Yerawada jail in May, after his conviction for illegal possession of arms in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. He is serving the 42-month remainder of his five-year sentence.
‘Cops crosschecked claim’
Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Kolekar, however, claimed that he did not advocate parole for Dutt. It was granted only after Mumbai’s Khar police had verified the truth of the medical certificate submitted by Dutt, which cited his wife Maanayata’s heart ailment. “The Khar police station officials first went and verified from the doctor treating Dutt that the reason mentioned in the certificate was true. To doubly check, senior inspector Vikas Sonawane personally went to the doctor concerned to crosscheck this,” Kolekar said, adding, “After establishing that the reason mentioned in the report was, indeed, true we sent out findings in the report to the divisional commissioner in Pune.”
Dutt to get parole soon
Yerawada Jail superintendent Yogesh Desai said that Sanjay Dutt’s relatives had fulfilled the conditions for securing his release on parole. “The actor’s kin have furnished the surety and cash security of Rs 5,000, and he will be released soon,” Desai said.