New Delhi(IANS): The Supreme Court Thursday upheld the death sentence of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case and commuted the death sentence of 10 others. The apex court also upheld the conviction of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt under the Arms Act in the terror attack and sent him to five years in prison.
While confirming the death sentence of Yakub Memon, the bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan said he and other members of the Memon family had played a predominant role in the execution of the conspiracy that led to 13 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai on March 12, 1993, claiming 257 lives and leaving 713 injured.
While commuting the death sentence of the 10 other convicts to life imprisonment, the court said that they were mere subservients in the execution of the conspiracy.
The humble and underprivileged background of these 10 accused, who were mere instruments in the hands of “principal perpetrators”, were counted as mitigating circumstances by the court.
The court said that if Memons were the archers of the conspiracy these 10 were just arrows. The judges also slammed Pakistan for aiding and abetting the acts of terrorism in infringement of international obligation as a member of United Nations.
Dutt was asked to surrender in four weeks.
The actor, who was convicted under the Arms Act for illegally possessing weapons, had been awarded six years imprisonment by the TADA (Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) court.
However, the apex court reduced the sentence from six years to five years. This effectively means that Dutt will be in jail for three years and six months as he has already undergone 18 months imprisonment.
The court also came down heavily on Mumbai police and customs officers at all levels. But for their wrong actions the 1993 bombings could have been avoided.
A TADA court had in 1993 awarded death sentence to 12 people, including Memon. One of them has passed away. The court had also sentenced 20 to life imprisonment and 46 others, including Sanjay Dutt, were given varying terms of imprisonment.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had faced flak for not challenging the TADA court verdict acquitting Sanjay Dutt of charges under the TADA but convicting him under the Arms Act and sentencing him to six years imprisonment.
However, in the course of the hearing of his appeal, the CBI had opposed the actor’s plea challenging his conviction and sentencing. A series of 13 car bomb blasts had ripped through Mumbai on March 12, 1993. The locations that were targeted included landmarks such as fisherman’s colony in Mahim Causeway, Zaveri Bazaar, Sahar Airport, Air India building, Hotel Juhu Centaur, the Bombay Stock Exchange Building and the Passport Office.
The TADA court trial court of Justice P.D. Kode had commenced the trial Nov 4, 1993, and pronounced its 4,230 page verdict on July 31, 2007.