While a controversy over parole being granted to actor Sanjay Dutt again and again is festering, the state home department will examine whether the laws can be changed to prevent any misuse of parole.
Home minister RR Patil, while defending the Pune divisional commissioner's decision to grant parole to Dutt because of his wife Maanyata's illness, said the proposed changes could see convicts who took parole repeatedly or misused it having the duration of parole being added to their jail term.
The likely changes to the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959, will aim at stopping the misuse of these provisions. However, these proposed changes will not extend to furlough, which is a matter of right for prisoners.
Annually, convicts lodged in jails can get 14 days' furlough, which can be extended by another 14 days, while they are entitled for 90 days of parole.
Patil said the Centre had sought information from the state government regarding the grounds on which parole was granted to Dutt, who is serving a sentence after being convicted under the Arms Act for illegal possession of weapons, and the duration. He added that the decision to grant parole had been taken by Pune divisional commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh, as per the legal provisions, due to his (Dutt's) wife Maanyata's illness. Patil said no applications for parole or furlough were pending.
The Opposition, Shiv Sena and BJP, have alleged that the state government is giving repeated parole to Dutt, who has been convicted in the 1993 bomb blasts case, due to his political connections. While Dutt's parents, actors Sunil and Nargis Dutt, were prominent Congress politicians, his sister Priya is a Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai.
Patil said that while granting parole to a convict, the authorities examined whether this would be against the interests of individuals or society at large, if s/he faced a threat from anyone and also if anyone could face a threat due to him/her being granted the facility. Whether the prisoner reported to the prison after his/her furlough or parole ended is also examined while taking a decision. In case the parole application of a convict has been rejected, s/he can apply to the state home department against it.
The purpose of parole and furlough is to see that the family members or relatives do not suffer due to the incarceration of a convict.
Maharashtra has eight central prisons, 25 district prisons, three open prisons, one open colony and one Borstal school.