The Telegraph
Friday , March 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

If it’s Yerwada, it may be cane

Mumbai, March 21: With the option of a review petition open before Sanjay Dutt, a decision on which prison he will be sent to has yet to be taken.

As an undertrial and a convict in the 1993 blasts case, Dutt was lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Road and Pune’s Yerwada jails respectively. He could return to Yerwada to serve the remaining three-and-a-half years of his term.

Sanjay had spent 22 days there in August 2007 and less than a month in October the same year, after the Tada court convicted him under the Arms Act and sentenced him to six years of rigorous imprisonment. This was reduced to five years today.

In Pune, unlike at Arthur Road where he spent 16 months in 1993 as an undertrial, he had to wear a regular prison uniform and work. “Convicts are allowed to choose an activity based on their background. Some choose carpentry, weaving, cane work, others go for agriculture or teaching other inmates. Dutt had chosen cane work and made seats of chairs,” recalled a jail official.

Undertrials neither have to wear a uniform nor perform prison duties.

In 2007, arrested after his conviction, Sanjay was initially sent to Arthur Road following an application to be kept in the city. But he was moved to Pune after officials argued the Mumbai jail was only for undertrials.

Unless there are special medical cases with permission from the court, convicts cannot be given home food. Inmates eat meals prepared by other inmates, which includes rice, chapati and dal.

A 20-minute visit by family members is allowed once every 15 days and a 14-day furlough a year, an official said. Convicts also can apply for an annual 30-day parole, which is given under certain conditions taking into account a prisoner’s behaviour in jail.

In 1993, after the blasts, Sanjay was summoned by police when his name emerged in the interrogation of the other accused in connection with possession of arms. He was detained on his return from a film shoot in Mauritius at the Mumbai airport and was subsequently arrested on April 19, 1993, after a crime branch quiz.

He was then lodged as an undertrial at Arthur Road for 16 months before being granted conditional bail.

“In the initial few days, he was very quiet and polite. Others lodged in the prison knew Dutt was lodged among them, but high-profile prisoners do not usually interact with others,” an official said.