Sanjay Dutt was released in February 2016, eight months early, on account of his good conduct while in Yerwada prison. Photograph: (Zee News Network)
The government had said Dutt was granted remission on account of his "good behaviour, discipline and participation in various institutional activities".
The Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government how Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was granted parole and furlough in quick succession in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
The High Court also asked the Maharashtra government "how is the good conduct and behaviour of a convict ascertained" and criteria followed while granting him early remission.
The TADA court had sentenced the Bollywood star to six years rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000.
Sanjay Dutt was released in February 2016, eight months early, on account of his good conduct while in Yerwada prison.
Four years ago the Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced the sentence to five years following which Dutt was required to serve only the remainder of his sentence.
However, during his imprisonment, he was granted parole of 90 days in 2013 and again for 30 days later.
"How did the jail authorities ascertain good behaviour and conduct within two months of the convict surrendering? Normally the superintendent of jail would not even forward the applications. The authorities would throw out the application," Justice Jadhav said.
To this, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbakoni told the court that Dutt was not given any preferential treatment, but if the court comes to the conclusion that the state government had erred in granting him early remission, it can direct Sanjay Dutt to go back to jail.
"We do not want to set the clock back in time. We are not for a moment suggesting that he (Dutt) go back to jail. But we only want such issues to be streamlined so that in future no questions are raised," Justice Savant said.
"We only want to know on what basis and criteria he (Dutt) was granted early remission on good conduct? How is this good conduct and behaviour ascertained? Our conscience has to be satisfied that all this was done in accordance with law," the judge said.
This is not the first time the High Court has asked questions about Sanjay Dutt's release, last month the Bombay High Court had asked the Maharashtra government the same question.
The government had said Dutt was granted remission on account of his "good behaviour, discipline and participation in various institutional activities such as physical training, educational programmes and for performing the allotted work."
The court has given the Maharashtra government two weeks to file a detailed affidavit.
Sanjay Dutt was accused of possession of arms, which were a part of the consignment used in the blast that shook Mumbai on March 12, 1993, claiming the lives of 257 people. The actor spent about 18 months in jail between 1994 and 1995 during the investigation and the marathon trial.
He also spent a few weeks in prison in 2007 after being sentenced to six years imprisonment under the Arms Act. Dutt surrendered in May 2013 after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction.