Mumbai, Dec 26: Why was Sanjay Dutt granted furlough? This was to enable him to retain his family ties and avoid the ill-effects of prison life. Furlough is treated as a remission of sentence which enables to stay out of jail for however much time the authorities have permitted to do so.
Since the day he went to prison he has been out on parole several times and this time he is out of furlough. The fact of the matter however remains that he has already spent 118 days out of jail and this in the backdrop of statistics showing that 80 percent of the undertrial prisoners in the country have met their families once in five years.
The difference - Dutt is a convicted prisoner and the undertrial is innocent until proven guilty.
The difference between furlough and parole:
A parole application will have to be approved only if the prisoner has an emergency. However when it comes to furlough it is granted without any major reason enabling the prisoner to retain family ties and avoid the bad effects of prison life. Moreover furlough is treated as remission of sentence.
The Law on furlough:
The Supreme Court says that since Rule 4(4) of the Bombay Prisoners Furlough Rules provided that furlough can be granted only when recommended by DM/SP and Rule 6 made it mandatory. Further it states that it is not necessary to release the prisoner on furlough but in case of parole, reasons have to be indicated. Again, release on furlough cannot be said to be an absolute right of the prisoner.
In the case of Sanjay Dutt:
The Maharashtra government says it will probe the matter. However it appears that it is a well thought out strategy this time around. The last time he was out on parole, there was a lot of hue and cry over the matter.
This time around while stating that it is not parole and furlough instead, Dutt may just get away as the law clearly states that no particular reason needs to be assigned. In the application that is filed before the authorities, Dutt sought fourlough which not only enables him to be out of jail, but even his sentence gets remitted. The standard reasons that are quoted in an application is that he needs to retain his family ties.