Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan, one of the six convicts in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, has told the special CBI court that he wants to examine three witnesses to support his arguments on the quantum of punishment to be handed out to him. Khan faces a maximum punishment of death after he was convicted last week of charges including criminal conspiracy and murder. Though the CBI is yet to commence its arguments on the quantum for each of the six convicts, special CBI counsel Deepak Salvi submitted before the special court that he would be seeking maximum punishment for them.
In an application filed through his advocate Wahab Khan, Feroz said he wanted to examine three witnesses to put forward the mitigating circumstances in his favour. Under legal provisions, a convict can lead evidence in his favour for leniency in punishment.“He (Feroz) will be examining himself and two of his co-inmates from Taloja central prison — one is an undertrial and the other serving life term,” Khan told the court.
In 2015, convicts in the July 11, 2011 train blasts case, too, had brought witnesses including jail inmates to depose on their good conduct in prison. Khan sought an adjournment to examine the witnesses, claiming that Feroz needed “cooling time” to prepare himself since he was still in shock after the judgment. Special Judge G A Sanap directed him to begin leading evidence from Tuesday stating that since the Supreme Court had expedited the matter, no adjournment could be granted.
Feroz, who was arrested on February 5, 2010, has been lodged in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail. The court had on June 16 observed that Feroz was a “prominent member” of the Dossa gang and was “actively involved” in smuggling arms and ammunition to India. The other five convicts, including Mustafa Dossa, Taher Merchant, Karimulla Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui and Abu Salem, told the court that they did not wish to examine any witness for arguments over the quantum of punishment.
Apart from Siddiqui, who was convicted only under Section 3 (3) of the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, the five convicted in the case could face the death penalty.Feroz, meanwhile, also sought that directions be given to the superintendent of Taloja jail to produce his medical records to substantiate his claim of suffering from diabetes and other ailments. He also sought a report of the probation officer for a possible benefit under the Probation of Offenders Act to submit on his good conduct and future possibility of reformation.
After the CBI gave its no-objection to the pleas, the court directed the superintendent to send all his medical records to court by Tuesday and also sought a report from the probation officer by June 27. On Friday, the special TADA court had convicted six while acquitting Abdul Qayyum Sheikh. Each of the accused will now be given an opportunity to argue over the quantum of punishment while the CBI makes its case on the aggravating and mitigating circumstances against them.