Sanjay Dutt`s parole: A mockery of the victims?

By Anindita Dev

As a number of people fume over the extension of Sanjay Dutt`s parole again, a loud noise is being created all over the social media over the privileged treatment the actor has been a receiving from the authorities.

Dutt was convicted by the Supreme Court for illegal possession of arms in relation to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case and was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment. Dutt had served 18 months of his jail term earlier and had surrendered himself to the TADA court on May 18th, 2013 to serve the remaining punishment.

The tragedy of the victims of the Mumbai Blasts is beyond imagination. The serial bombings were miserably destructive and took over 350 lives. It is indeed the duty of the law keepers to see that those who suffered in the event feel that justice has been delivered; and those linked with the dastardly acts are punished.

By extending Dutt`s parole for 30 more days for the third time since May 2013, the Maharashtra Government has certainly sent the wrong message to the society.The 54-year-old actor has been out on parole since December 21 and was going to return to the Yerawada Jail in Pune on February 21. But in order to attend to his ailing wife and look after his twin children, he applied for a parole extension. And his wish was granted! His parole has been extended till 21st March.

In October he was out of prison for a month citing health issues and returned only on the 30th October after his grant was extended by two weeks. He had been granted 15 days leave initially.

Dutt is a Bollywood star and may have an ocean of fan following. He may have even portrayed characters that have struck an emotional chord with the audiences but the question is whether the `Munnabhai` actor should be preferentially treated despite being linked with those involved in a terrorist act – a crime for which the courts have convicted him?

If he has been convicted, whether he is a star or not, he is a criminal in the eyes of the law and he should be treated like any other convict and face the consequences of his crimes. The judgement has come two decades after the blasts, and the repeated paroles and extensions seem like a stab to the victims and those who have suffered.  

Though hugely debatable, favouritism is apparent in this case. A number of others convicted for committing crimes too have problems of their own families to deal with. But how many have been subjected to such preferential treatment? 

It seems unfair that it’s been less than a year since he has started serving his sentence and he has already been granted parole three times, for a month each. 

Every citizen must be treated as equal in the eye of law and must be punished irrespective of the degree of crime. If Dutt, because of his political reach ( his sister Priya Dutt is an MP, in Congress) and stardom can seek personal benefits then people will lose faith in the law-keepers, a faith that is already wavering.