The special TADA court at Mumbai would announce the quantum of sentence of five convicts, including extradited gangster Abu Salem, in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case on September 7. Judge G A Sanap had on June 16 convicted Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui and Tahir Merchant for their role in hatching the conspiracy for the blasts. Another accused, Abdul Kayuum, was acquitted. The court had concluded hearing on the quantum of punishment on August 10. Judge Sanap on Tuesday said he would pronounce the sentence on September 7.
The prosecution had demanded death for Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Khan and Tahir Merchant, and life sentence for Siddiqui. However, Dossa, one of the masterminds of the conspiracy (apart from absconding accused Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and others) died of cardiac arrest on June 28.
The prosecution had said that Salem too deserved death, but it cannot demand the maximum penalty for him because of the Indian Extradition Act.
Under section 34 (C) of the Act, if the country from where an accused has been extradited does not have a law that provides for capital punishment, he or she cannot be sentenced to death. Such a convict, however, can be awarded life term in jail.
In the first set of trial in the case which concluded in 2007, the court had convicted 100 accused, including Yakub Memon (who got death penalty) and actor Sanjay Dutt.
The trial of Salem and others was separated as they were arrested later.
The serial blasts in the country’s financial capital on March 12, 1993 left 257 people dead, 713 seriously injured, and destroyed property worth Rs 27 crore.
In the present trial, except for Riyaz Siddiqui, the court convicted other five of criminal conspiracy and murder under the IPC and provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act. Siddiqui was convicted only under the TADA for helping Salem and others in transporting arms and ammunition.
All of them were absolved of the charge of ‘waging war against the nation’ under section 121 of IPC.
While Dossa arranged for landing of explosives, including RDX in India, and sent some youths to Pakistan for arms training, Salem transported arms and ammunition from Gujarat coast to Mumbai.
He also handed over AK-56 rifles, 250 rounds of ammunition, and some hand grenades to Dutt. He was accused of later collected two rifles and some ammunition back from the actor’s residence.
The court had dropped certain charges against Salem in 2013 after the investigating agency, CBI, said those were in violation of the extradition treaty between India and Portugal from where Salem was deported in 2005.