The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death penalty awarded to Yakub Memon, one of the masterminds of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and commuted the capital punishment of 10 others to life term.
However, actor Sanjay Dutt was dealt a massive blow, with the apex court sentencing him to a five-year-jail term for possessing illegal arms.
The verdict brings the curtains down on the 20-year-old case regarding the first ever synchronised attack on the country’s commercial capital. Twelve explosions rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993, killing 257 people and injuring 700 others.
The court upheld the death penalty awarded to Memon for “hatching the scheme for such a tragic act,” but commuted the sentence of 10 others saying that “they were mere subservient subordinates.”
“If we say it in a metaphoric style, A-1 (Yakub) and all the absconding accused were the archers whereas rest of the appellants were arrows,” a bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said.
The court passed six separate set of verdicts running into 2,200 pages, dealing with appeals filed by the Maharashtra government as well as some of the 100 convicts.
Slamming Pakistan for its role in the blasts, the bench said it was devastated to state that the “neighbouring state, being a member of the United Nations, infringed upon the recognised principles under the international law.”
“In the relevant scenario, the accused arrived in Pakistan for training and they were received by ISI operatives who took them out of the airport without observing any immigration formalities.
Meaning thereby, they had a green channel entry in Pakistan. Another confession reveals that they received training from the ISI officials themselves on some occasions. These events unveil the tolerance and encouragement shown by Pakistan towards terrorism,” the court said.
Refusing to allow a plea for Dutt’s release on probation, the court said the serious circumstances and nature of the offence did not warrant any leniency. However, it reduced the sentence to five years in view of various factors like the actor’s work for AIDS patients and his involvement with the NGO, Save the Children Foundation. Earlier, he was slapped a six-year sentence by the TADA court under provisions of the Arms Act.
Dutt (53), who has already spent 18 months in jail during the pendency of the case, was ordered to surrender within four weeks. He had filed an affidavit detailing the circumstances preceding his decision to acquire an AK-56 rifle.
His family had received threats after the 1992-93 riots for “being Muslim sympathisers” and his father, erstwhile Congress MP Sunil Dutt, was attacked, the affidavit stated. The court, however, relied upon confessional statements of the co-accused and other corroborative evidence to confirm the conviction.
Congress MP Priya Dutt, who was present in the courtroom during the proceedings, turned emotional as the court started pronouncing its verdict regarding her actor brother. “What to say,” a visibly despondent Dutt told mediapersons outside the courtroom.
Besides, the apex court ordered life imprisonment for 32 others, including Yakub Memon’s brother and sister. The court also blamed police and customs officials for helping some convicts in executing the blasts.
Of the total 123 accused, the trial court had convicted 100 people.
Besides death reference of 11 people, 51 appeals were filed by the accused against their conviction. The state government had filed 48 appeals through the CBI.
* Supreme Court upholds death sentence of Yakub Abdul Memon, commutes sentence of 10 other convicts to life imprisonment
* Upholds life sentence of 16 out of 18 convicts sentenced by TADA court
* Life term convicts will remain in jail till their death
* Management and conspiracy done by Dawood Ibrahim and others in Pakistan, ISI also involved
FOR SANJAY DUTT
Conviction upheld under Arms Act, however 6-yr jail term given by TADA court reduced to 5 years
n To spend over 3 years in jail, already served one and half years and is out on bail
I am heart-broken...
God will guide me.
Charges: Illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle which was part of consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for the coordinated serial blasts that killed 257 people and injured over 700