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‘93 Mumbai blasts: SC upholds death for Yakub, 5-year jail for Sanjay Dutt
Pak played key role in training accused involved in serial explosions: Court
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 21
Confirming Pakistan’s role in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, the Supreme Court today upheld the death sentence awarded to the mastermind Yakub Memon, brother of absconding accused Tiger Memon, but commuted the death penalty of 10 others citing several reasons, including the fact that they have been in jail for 20 years.

A Bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan also upheld the conviction of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt for possession of illegal arms and ammunition at the time of the serial blasts, but reduced his sentence from six years to five years, the minimum punishment for the offence under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA).

The Bench rejected Dutt’s plea for his release on parole or probation by suspending his sentence for a period not exceeding three years in view of various factors.

The SC directed him to surrender within four weeks for serving the remaining 3.5 years of his sentence. He has already served out 1.5 years of his sentence in the case before getting bail from the SC.

Pakistan figures as many as 464 times in the 2,199-page verdict. “Confessions of various co-accused amply prove that the weapons training was organised with the aid of the Government of Pakistan and also clearly show a very deep involvement of A-1 (Yakub Memon) in the organisation and conduct of serial bomb blasts,” the apex court ruled.

Commuting the death penalty of 10 convicts who had actually taken the RDX to 13 locations, including the Bombay Stock Exchange building, and planted them, the SC said they were from the lower strata of society and had “fallen prey” to the ulterior motive of the conspirators to “spread terror among the people.” Further, most of them were in the 20s when they committed the crime, besides the fact that they have been in jail for 20 years. They will be now in prison till their natural death.

The SC, however, clarified that no accused could “claim as a matter of right” commutation on the ground of delay in the judicial process and that it had considered their plea “as an exceptional scenario.”

The SC upheld the death penalty of Yakub Memon for making all the arrangements for the terror strike by sending the other accused to Pakistan for training in handling arms and ammunition and making bombs and for hatching the conspiracy in India, Dubai and Pakistan.

The Bench read out the operative portions of its six judgments in the case for about one hour and 40 minutes in a packed courtroom. Dutt’s sister Priya, who was present in the court, broke down after learning that her brother’s conviction had been upheld.

Among the reasons cited by Dutt for seeking parole were: He is not a previous offender, unlikely to commit any offence in future, suffered the agony of a long trial that lasted 13.5 years, carried the tag of an alleged terrorist until his acquittal by the TADA court of the charge of conspiracy in the serial blasts, got married in 2008, has two kids aged 1.5 years and is helping orphaned and destitute children in his capacity as a Director of the Save Children Foundation.

The SC refused to grant parole, observing that he did not deserve probation as the circumstances and the nature of the offence “are so serious.” However, “taking note of various aspects, we reduce the sentence” to five years, the Bench said without specifying the aspects.

The TADA court had sentenced him for possessing three AK-56 rifles and the ammunition for the weapons, one 9 mm pistol and its cartridges and hand grenades. The court had, however, ruled that these arms and ammunition were part of the consignments smuggled into the country by dreaded underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his associates for carrying out the 1993 serial blasts at 13 locations in Mumbai in which over 250 people were killed and more than 700 injured.

While Dutt came to the SC challenging his conviction, the CBI which had investigated the case and initiated the trial did not appeal against his acquittal in the conspiracy case.

Deadly strikes

Mar 12:
13 explosions rock Mumbai; 257 killed, 713 injured.
Apr 19: Actor Sanjay Dutt held
Nov 4: Chargesheet filed against 189 accused, including Dutt.
Nov 19: Case given to CBI.

Apr 10:
26 accused discharged. Charges framed against the rest Apr 19: Trial commences.

Trial ends. Court reserves judgment.
Sept 12: Court pronounces four members of the Memon family guilty, acquits three. 12 convicts awarded death penalty while 20 were given life sentence.

Nov 1:
The Supreme Court begins hearing on appeals filed by 100 convicts

Mar 21:
SC upholds death sentence of convict Yakub Memon, brother of Tiger Memon, and commutes death sentence of 10 convicts to life term. Life imprisonment of 16 out of 18 convicts also upheld.

The Plotters

  • Dawood Ibrahim (pic), Tiger Memon, and Mohammed Ahmed Dossa, Ayub alias Abdul Razak Memon were described as planners the blasts along with Yakub Memon
  • Younger brother of Tiger Memon, Yakub (pic), a chartered accountant, was found guilty of possessing arms and distributing them among the accused besides purchasing vehicles used in the blasts
  • Among the other 10 death convicts whose punishment was commuted to life sentence were those given the role of planting the explosives by Yakub

Dutt's role

  • Sanjay Dutt (53), who is out on bail, will also have to surrender within four weeks to serve a jail term of 42 months. He has already spent 18 months behind bars.
  • Dutt's conviction upheld under Arms Act. SC reduces 6-yr jail term given by TADA court to 5 years.
  • TADA court had held actor guilty of illegal possession of a 9 mm pistol and three AK-56 rifles which was part of the consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for serial blasts.

No involvement in blasts, says Pak

Pakistan on Thursday rejected involvement of the government or any of its official agencies in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, saying it was committed to engaging India in a “sustained and result-oriented dialogue”. Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry "categorically rejected any insinuations pointing to the involvement of the government of Pakistan or any of its agencies in such activity".





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