Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jail for Aam aadmi, bail for Super Star : By Madabhushi Sridhar

The Hans India: National: Tuesday, July 25, 2017.
One is a celebrity and the other an unknown common man. Both are convicted and jailed. Common man suffers 14 days of extra-detention and celebrity is released 8 months in advance.
The Delhi government opposes compensation for 14 days of extra illegal detention of Om Prakash Gandhi in Tihar Jail in Delhi, who was fighting for liberty with the help of RTI.
In comparison, Maharashtra Government is defending the 240 days early release of Sanjay Dutt from Yerwada Jail in Pune. If Maharashtra government fights for liberty of a celebrity, the Delhi government fights against remedy for illegal detention. Both are based on Constitution, jail manual, prison rules and policies. Then what makes the difference?
This is the story of Rulers and Rule of Law.
While the super-star Sanjay Dutt defended himself from the prosecution with the support of a battery of lawyers at every stage for every benefit of doubt and concession available in criminal justice system, poor convict Om Prakash Gandhi in Delhi struggled to get for every bit of information through Right to Information.
What media and lawyers did for Sanjay Dutt was done by the RTI to the Om Prakash Gandhi. If the Bombay High Court questions why Sanjay Dutt was released 8 months in advance, several months after release, Delhi High Court stays the order of payment of compensation to Om Prakash Gandhi on a writ petition by PIO of Tihar Jail.
The authorities invoked Constitutional provisions against a poor and ordinary convict, to prevent payment of compensation for extra-detention, in spite of remission granted. 
The Bombay High Court on 12th June 2017 asked as to how Dutt's good behavior was assessed and how he was released early when he was out on parole and furlough during half of his sentence.
Delhi High Court said on January 27, 2017 prima facie CIC has no power to ask for policy against extra detention or order compensation to Om Prakash Gandhi for that. Section 4 of RTI Act imposes an obligation that public authority should explain the policy to the affected persons.
Having no policy on compensating a prisoner detained for more than the remission days seriously affects the liberty of a prisoner and he was not informed the reasons for that.  Section 19(8) (b) of RTI Act says the CIC has power to require public authority to compensate complainant or any loss or other detriment suffered. Prima facie Delhi High Court viewed that the CIC exceeded its power in asking for policy and ordering compensation of Rs 10,000.
And the Delhi Jail Administration must have spent surely more than Rs 10,000 to secure stay against the order instead of paying poor convict who was denied information about his date of release, delayed information about details of remission etc which led to extra detention for 14 days.
A common man’s freedom from illegal detention has no value but a celebrity will get all the mercy, kindness of government to take benefit of 8 months freedom. What would have happened if Sanjay Dutt was Om Prakash Gandhi and vice-e-versa? Here is a comparison.
Common convict
  • Common man with less education, no bank balance, no media attention, in fact no one cares for him. Family is simple and unknown even in the locality.
  • Son of a father, that is all, nothing more need be mentioned.
  • Poor or rich is no criterion if crime is proved. Though poverty is the reason of crime.
  • Convicted under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act for dishonour of cheque for insufficiency of funds.
  • Sentenced to one year simple imprisonment.
  • Could not go in appeal because of poverty.
  • He could not afford to pay hefty fee
  • Trial went on for three years
  • As he could not go in appeal, his Jail term was not reduced. His great crime is no having enough funds in bank.
  • What if he is in jail without bail? He has no job to do? Better be in jail itself.
  • The poor convict filed 36 RTI applications to get information about remissions etc. Tihar jail refused information in routine, till the CIC intervened and directed.
  • He served his sentence in Tihar Jail.
  • Sentence was up to 24th October 2014. He has collected the information on remission and other aspects through 36 RTI applications and based on that contended that he should have been released on 2nd August 2014. But he was detained 14 days extra.
  • He requested for exact of date of release prior to 2nd August 2014, but Jail authorities did not inform, but detained. They say he was detained to check up whether needed in any other criminal case, though there was no case.
  • He got 83 days of remission as he assisted all wings with his education and computer knowledge, besides maintaining good conduct
  • Though he has put in laborious work he has to fight for his compensation through RTI applications. He suffered an injury and complained of medical negligence that resulted in injury to leg and reduction in length permanently
  • He has to struggle all alone through RTI for compensation for 14 days of extra imprisonment.
  • CIC asked do Jails have policy to compensate for extra illegal detention? They say only if court orders they pay, even if it is breach of right to life under Article 21. And directed them to pay compensation for extra detention. Delhi High Court granted stay on CIC order stalling the payment of compensation (in Feb 2017)
  • No media questions why not compensation for poor convict who was detained extra?
  • Government challenged compensation for illegal detention for 14 days. Section 19(8)(b) says CIC can require public authority to compensate for any loss or other detriment suffered. CIC concluded that OPGandhi was seeking information about date of release and details of remission much before the date of release. Information was denied and detention was extended. Denial of information resulted in loss and detriment.
Celebrity Convict
  • Celebrity himself, millions of fans, hundreds of producers, big family, friends, wife, kids, heroes and heroines to support at any time.
  • Son of celebrity couple Nargis and Sunil Dutt, former MP & Congress leader.
  • He is so rich, why should he commit a crime? Family’ contribution is significant.
  • On July, 2007, the TADA court in Mumbai sentenced him to six years' rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 for his role in 1993 blasts case for illegal possession and destruction of an AK-56 rifle.
  • All possible appeals up to Supreme Court.
  • Battery of expert lawyers represened him.
  • Equal justice, this trial also went on for three years!
  • Supreme Court was kind enough to reduce the sentence for Sanjay from six years to five years.
  • Sanjay Dutt is a busy cine hero, several producers invested huge amount. If their problems are not considered, economy of the country will suffer. Hence the police, lawyers and media collects meticulous details and helps innocent victim of circumstances.
  • He served his sentence in Yerawada Central Prison in Pune and was let out in February 2016, eight months early, on account of his good conduct while in Pune's Yerwada prison.
  • There was no such need of RTI request or IC intervention.
  • He got 90 plus 30 days of parole and 240 days of remission, happily released 8 months in advance.
  • He got 240 days remission for good conduct. It is not known what rigorous term he went through or whether he helped in any way.
  • During his imprisonment, Dutt was granted parole of 90 days in December 2013 and later again for 30 days.
  • Celebrities need not struggle. Lawyers and friends will take care of his legal needs. He need not resort to RTI, as media supports them.
  • None asked so far whether Jails have any policy for releasing a VVIP convict earlier than the date of release.
  • In June 2017 the Mumbai High Court asks the Maharastra Government to explain why he was released 8 months in advance?
  • Media calls it fresh trouble for Sanjay Dutt, the caption that reflects their sympathy for him.
  • Maharastra Government official said. "The prisons department has already submitted its affidavit on the actor's release. No case has been registered against him of default or indiscipline while he was in jail. There was no adverse report from police as well when he was out of the jail. Not a single day of special remission has been awarded to him. He has been treated as an ordinary prisoner all along".