Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who returned to Yerawada Central Jail in Pune Thursday to serve the remainder of his term after 14-day-long furlough ended and there was no response to his request for an extension, however did not surrender.
Maharashtra home ministry officials said that they were awaiting a reply from the police department on the reasons behind Dutt’s fresh request, made Dec 27, for an extension. This came amid indications that the government was unwilling to court further controversy over the frequent furloughs granted to the actor.
Dutt, who arrived from Mumbai to Pune by a flight, stepped out of the airport, and boarded a vehicle to go and surrender to the jail authorities.
However, after more than a couple of hours of staying around the jail premises, he turned away from there and was expected to return home to Mumbai late Thursday.
The ostensible reason was that a government official had said that it was not necessary for him to go back to jail till a decision was taken on his application for extension of his furlough, which had started Dec 24.
Dutt’s lawyer Subhash Jadhav told media persons that as a law-abiding citizen, Dutt had returned to jail, but senior prison officials said he need not surrender till his application for extension was pending.
Before leaving home in Mumbai this afternoon, Dutt had told media persons that his application for extension of his furlough was still under process.
“We made the request for extension the furlough Dec 27 and it is still under process. As the laws stipulate that I must surrender myself if I am not granted the extension, I am doing it now,” he said.
The 55-year-old, who is currently serving a five-year jail term since nearly 18 months, had applied for the furlough in November.
During his leave of absence from the jail, Dutt spent time with his family — wife Maanyata, son Shahraan and daughter Iqra — as well as his string of friends from the Hindi film fraternity.
A special screening of Rajkumar Hirani’s controversial movie “PK” was also organised for Dutt, who also features in a cameo in the Aamir Khan-starrer. Post the screening, he said he loved “PK” for being an “honest film”.
Dutt also welcomed the New Year with a party at his residence. His friends from showbiz and his family members were in attendance.
When Dutt had come out on the furlough, he left media persons surprised by flaunting his washboard abs, revealing that he had worked towards eight-pack abs while in jail. He even said that he had lost 18 kg and that he has managed to pen “10 scripts” during his sentence so far.
Dutt’s frequent demands of a furlough have oft raised controversy.
Minister of State for Home Ram Shinde had raised questions about the repeated furlough granted to Dutt and sought to know the status of such furlough applications by other prisoners and whether they had also been granted the same.
In February 2014, the Bombay High Court has also commented on the diligence in granting the actor’s requests for furlough which was not visible in case of other convicts who applied for leave.
The actor earlier took leave on medical grounds in October 2013 for 28 days, followed by similar leave for 28 days in December 2013, to tend to his sick wife Maanyata — a move which sparked protests.
His wife’s prolonged illness prompted him to seek further parole in January 2014 for another 28 days.
Dutt was convicted for illegal possession and destruction of an AK-56 army assault rifle during the 1993 Mumbai communal conflagration before the March 12, 1993 serial bomb blasts in the city.
Following a Supreme Court directive, he surrendered on May 16, 2013, and was moved to the high-security jail in Pune to serve the remainder of his 42-month sentence.
Inputs by IANS