In an interesting development and a refreshing diversion from the regular sycophancy associated with celebrity arrests, the Yerwada Jail authorities have filed a review petition in the Special TADA court to discontinue home-cooked food, the use of a fan and other services provided to Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, convicted in the 1993 serial blasts case.
“These provisions were removed from the jail manual way back in 2000 for convicts who are fit. And Dutt seems to be fine. In fact, we will be filing similar petitions for other convicts who have availed of such unnecessary facilities,” said Yerwada Jail’s Superintendent Yogesh Desai.
The authorities have also questioned the fact that some prisoners carry personal articles such as toothbrushes and soap. It was while surrendering on May 16th that Dutt had filed an application seeking permission to take in toiletries, e-cigarettes, clothes, a mattress, a table fan, medicines and a nasal spray. The Court of Special TADA Judge Sanap allowed all articles except e-cigarettes to Dutt, for a period of one month after which he would require permission from jail authorities.
In less than a month, the jail authorities have registered their official dissent towards Dutt’s sops and will resist any move to retain the relaxations after the stipulated month that ends around mid-June. There has always an overwhelming support for Dutt within the film industry and an equally-virulent lobby beyond baying for his punishment for years on end. It must have been very difficult for the court to be unaffected. It is important that the law of the land treats him like the rest. His imprisonment following trial was a step in the right direction. It was to correct a wrong. A host of opinions charging bias, following his sentencing, was a given.
But, everyone seemed to have missed the point completely. When charges of TADA against Dutt were dropped, the family rejoiced in tandem with supporters. It meant that Sanjay Dutt may have been involved with procuring and keeping a weapon and could be charged under the Arms Act but was not a terrorist. That he would be served a sentence of this nature, was a given, even back then. The government chose not to appeal under the acquittal of TADA too, giving a clean chit to Sanjay Dutt. Flaying the processes now, is a sheer waste of time.
The Rule of Law maintains that every man is treated in the same manner. All men are equal and face the same consequences for the same actions irrespective of position and power. That said there’s overwhelming evidence of an acute failure of the Rule of Law in India where there are distinctly different standards of procedure and penal action for different classes. For one, the aspect of bond and bail, in itself, puncture the concept of the rule of law.
It is at the instance of a ‘socially and financially sound’ individual’s undertaking that an application of bail could be considered. The poor have few ‘socially and financially sound’ persons backing them while the affluent have no dearth of tax-paying sureties.
In the face of overwhelming insinuations of bias and favouritism, Yerwada Jail authority’s review petition to discontinue home-cooked food, a fan and the works for Sanjay Dutt comes as a whiff of fresh air. After making ‘teary’ proclamations of “letting the law takes its path” and “abiding by the court” and all that, pushing for special treatment by way of home-cooked food, e-cigarettes and personal toiletries, does seem excessive. It is an affront to the rest of the inmates who suffer stark hint of comfort during their prison tenure.
Dicey’s Rule of Law adopted all over the world in varying contexts insists that all men are treated the same. Now, the Rule holds good for both – free men and those in prison. However, a few convicts who push the envelope by dint of their position and authority to procure a few perks under the guise of ‘illness’ and ‘old age’, need to be pulled up and put in place. Warped processes need to be rectified as soon as possible.
From the controversial cop handshake with Sanjay Dutt, the last time he was arrested, that led to an uproar all over, the authorities seem to have come a long way. The Yerwada Jail authorities’ putting their foot down firmly on the issue of ‘unfair relaxations’, is a step in the right direction. Go!
Image Source : IANS