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Bombay High Court Issues Notice On Perarivalan's Plea For Information On Early Release Of Sanjay Dutt

Sharmeen Hakim
19 Feb 2021 3:15 PM GMT
Bombay High Court Issues Notice On Perarivalans Plea For Information On Early Release Of Sanjay Dutt
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The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, issued notice to the State Information Commission on a petition filed by a convict in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking details related to the early release of actor Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted in the 1993 Bombay serial bomb blasts case. The petitioner, A G Perarivalan (48), who is serving his 30th year of life...

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The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, issued notice to the State Information Commission on a petition filed by a convict in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking details related to the early release of actor Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted in the 1993 Bombay serial bomb blasts case.

The petitioner, A G Perarivalan (48), who is serving his 30th year of life in prison, intends to cite Dutt's case for an early release on similar grounds.

Perarivalan was sentenced to death, in 1998, for having provided two 9-volt batteries, which were used in the bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was 19-years-old at the time of his arrest. The Supreme Court commuted his sentence to life imprisonment, in 2014, citing an inordinate delay of 11 years in deciding his mercy plea.

He approached the Bombay High Court last year, after all his attempts to procure document's related to Dutt's release under the Right to Information Act failed.

A division bench of Justices KK Tated and RI Chagla heard Perarivalan, through his counsel Nilesh Ukey, on Wednesday following which the court issued notice to the State Information Commission. The other respondents, including the State, were represented by a Government Pleader.

Ukey informed the bench that his client was in "grave need" of the documents pertaining to Dutt's release, to help him in his case, however, Maharashtra's prison department was not ready to part with the relevant information.

Ukey submitted that despite Dutt's conviction under the Arms Act, a central act, the State of Maharashtra granted him 256 days' remission, adding, that the Union of India recently filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court and has taken a stand that it is only the President of India who has the power to remit Perarivalan's sentence, and not the Tamil Nadu Governor.

The HC bench also allowed Perarivalan to amend his petition based on the Union's affidavit before the SC.

Perarivalan approached the apex court in 2016 seeking to expedite a decision on remission of his sentence. The Tamil Nadu state government's recommendation was pending before the Governor for over 2 years by then. He sought Dutt's documents around the same time. Dutt was sentenced to six years imprisonment, in 2006-07, by a special court constituted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. His imprisonment was reduced to five years by the apex court in 2013.

The actor was released on furlough and parole a few times while serving his term at Yerwada prison, Pune. He was finally released from the prison on February 25, 2016, after being granted 256 days' remission.

Perarivalan is seeking to know if the Union's or state government's opinion was taken before granting remission to Dutt.

The quest for Dutt's documents

As per Perarivalan's petition, he filed an application under the Right to Information Act with Yerwada prison in March 2016, seeking information pertaining to Dutt's early release.

When he did not receive a reply from the Yerwada prison, he approached the Appellate Authority, which too refused to provide the information, saying it relates to a third person. He then filed an appeal before the State Information Commission, which passed an "insufficient and vague" order. Following which, he approached the High court.

"The State Information Commission ought to have directed Yerwada prison authorities to provide relevant, complete and sufficient information to the petitioner (Perarivalan) and ought to have appreciated the fact that obtaining information relating to the release of Sanjay Dutt would help in remission of the petitioner who has spent 29 years in jail," the petition reads.

The petition seeks directions from the HC for Yerwada prison authorities to provide him the relevant information and set aside the Appellate authority's order.

"The petitioner is not concerned about the extraordinariness of the considerations, if any, in the case of Sanjay Dutt by the jail department at each stage of release/remission/parole and furlough. The petitioner is also not interested in sending Dutt behind bars for the remission granted to him, if it is found to be granted in contrary to law," the petition says.

It adds that the petitioner is only concerned with the documents and information related to the calculation of remission, furlough and parole so that he could use the said information to seek early release.


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