Free Press Journal

What punishment will ’93 blasts accused get?


Mumbai : After facing a protracted trial for nearly five years, six of the seven accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blast case were finally convicted by a special TADA court on Friday. These convicts, including Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa, have been charged with murder, criminal conspiracy and several charges including of terrorism.

Among the probabilities of the punishment that would be awarded to all the convicts, as per the charges pronounced by the special Judge GA Sanap, the tendency for a ‘capital’ punishment for these six convicts is less.

Abu Salem and others are primarily convicted under the provisions of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). However Salem has an advantage that the others don’t, because as the per treaty signed by India with Portugal, he cannot be given punishment more than 25 years. Hence, death is ruled out in this case.

Among the main charges slapped on these accused are conspiring to execute a terrorist act, concealing terrorists and commission of terrorist act, being an active member of a terrorist organisation. The other secondary or additional charges include murder, attempt to murder, causing grievous hurt, destruction of public property, possession of arms etc.

Interestingly, the maximum punishment for all the above charges is life except a few charges under the TADA that can attract death sentence.

Noted advocate Niteen Pradhan said the only charge under TADA that attracts death is section 2 – death of a person due to a terrorist act. “The special court has confirmed this charge on some of the convicts and there are chances that they can be given death. However, no one can predict as to what actual penalty would be imposed,” Pradhan said.

The convicts on whom the section 2 has been pronounced as Mustafa Dossa, Tahir Merchant, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Khan and Abu Salem.

Pradhan also said that the special judge would have to primarily focus on the charges of TADA while deciding the sentence. “This trial has been conducted in a special court designated under the provisions of TADA. Thus, the charges confirmed under TADA will have to be given priority over the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Arms Act and others, can be categorised as additional and secondary ones.”

Pradhan also said that if the court thinks that the charges of TADA are not much effective in this offence, only then the other additional charges would be considered. He also cited the first half of the judgement, wherein more than 10 convicts were given death by the special court. However, the Supreme Court had commuted the sentences of all except Yakub Memon.