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Probe into Dutt double relief

Mumbai, Dec. 7: Maharashtra home minister R.R. Patil today ordered a probe into yesterday’s grant of 30 days’ parole to actor Sanjay Dutt, which would have allowed him to leave jail a second time in two months.

Pune divisional commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh had granted the parole last evening on the ground of Dutt’s wife Maanyata’s illness. Apparently, the order did not reach Pune’s Yerwada jail last night and, after Patil’s statement this morning, the actor was not released.

It wasn’t clear whether the parole had been revoked. Jail superintendent Yogesh Desai wasn’t receiving calls.

Dutt, 54, serving the remaining 42 months of his five-year term in an arms case related to the 1993 Bombay blasts, had spent 30 days at home in October after receiving furlough.

Controversy broke out over the latest relief after film gossip websites last night uploaded pictures purportedly showing Maanyata at a film screening on Wednesday night. This morning’s newspapers too carried similar photographs.

However, a cardio-thoracic surgeon told The Telegraph that Maanyata had a liver tumour “about 6cm large” and a suspected heart ailment.

“Three or four weeks ago, she came to me with abdominal pain. She had lost about 10kg,” Dr Ajay Chaughule, who practises at Global Hospital, said.

“I’ve asked her to undergo tests to find out if the tumour is cancerous. After that we can look at the need for surgery.”

The Republican Party of India today protested outside the jail against “favouritism” to Dutt, a charge echoed by the state BJP. Social media too bristled with indignation, prompting tweets such as “@extremelibran: I think Sanjay Dutt is India’s first freelance prisoner.”

Patil told reporters the inquiry would look at “the documents and medical papers on which his release has been allowed” and promised an Assembly statement on Monday.

Deshmukh said he had cleared Dutt’s parole on a recommendation from jailer Desai and a Mumbai assistant commissioner of police.

On October 28, he had rejected a parole application from one of Dutt’s co-accused, 70-year-old Zaibunissa Kazi, citing a “negative report” by Mumbai police.

PTI quoted Zaibunissa’s daughter Shagufta, who has moved a fresh plea for parole, as saying: “My mother is 70. She should get parole now as other people are getting it on normal medical grounds…. My 90-year-old grandmother has been waiting to meet her.”

An earlier parole plea by Dutt was pending when he received a fortnight’s furlough on October 1, which was later extended till October 30.

Officials said it’s easier to receive furlough than parole. Parole is granted by the state administration on a specific ground, such as a wedding or illness in the family. Furlough is allowed by the jail authorities for good conduct.

The required period of good conduct varies. At Delhi’s Tihar, it’s three years. Dutt’s latest jail stint began in May this year.