A special TADA court on Wednesday sentenced Abu Salem to life imprisonment and slapped Rs 8 lakh fine on him, days after the gangster was found guilty in the murder case of builder Pradeep Jain in 1995.
Contending life term which implies that the convict would stay behind bars till the end of his life, defence lawyer Sudeep Pasbola argued before the court that as per the extradition treaty with Portugal, Salem cannot be given capital punishment or a jail term exceeding 25 years. Salem is now likely to challenge the jail term in Portugal’s Supreme Court.
TADA judge G A Sanap, however, said the court had to apply the law, while the government can exercise its power in the matter of “execution of the sentence awarded by this court”. The court clarified that the “solemn sovereign assurance” between India and Portugal cannot be construed as any amendment in existing Indian legal provisions.
“Application of punishment and execution of punishment are two different things. The application or awarding of punishment falls under the jurisdiction and domain of this court,” observed the judge.
On February 16, Salem was found guilty on counts of murder, criminal conspiracy and other charges. He was extradited from Portugal in 2005.
Another convict in the case, Mehndi Hassan, was also sentenced to life imprisonment on two counts, 25-year jail on three counts, 10-year imprisonment on one count, five and three years prison term on one and three counts, respectively. The court also slapped a fine of Rs 8.65 lakh on Hassan.
Fellow accused 86-year-old V K Jhamb’s sentence was set off against his stay in prison during the probe, but was fined Rs 5 lakh. Jhamb, a builder, was found guilty of extortion and criminal conspiracy.
On March 7, 1995, Jain was shot dead outside his Juhu bungalow after he refused to part with his property to Salem.