The special TADA court yesterday awarded death to two and life term to gangster Abu Salem and one other in the 1993 serial blasts case, which killed 257 and grievously injured 713. On June 16, special court judge G A Sanap had convicted Feroze Abdul Rashid Khan alias Hamza Abdul Rashid Khan, Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Tahir Mohd Merchant alias Tahir Taklya, and Karimullah Khan alias Karimullah Hussain Habib Shaikh.

Blast at Zaveri Bazaar on March 12, 1993. File pic
Blast at Zaveri Bazaar on March 12, 1993. File pic

All the accused were convicted under relevant sections of the TADA Act read with the IPC, Arms Act, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

The court convicted Riyaz Siddiqui only under the TADA Act and discharged him from the conspiracy charge, and it acquitted Abdul Kayuum Karim Shaikh, saying there was no evidence found against him. On June 28, Dossa had died in JJ Hospital, where he was admitted following high fever and hypertension.

Present tense
Judge Sanap started pronouncing the judgment at 12.40 pm; he started with Karimullah and Salem, who were sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment, Siddiqui was sentenced to 10 years in jail and the other two — Feroze and Tahir — were awarded death sentences, to be confirmed by the SC.

After the judgment was pronounced, all convicts appeared to be tense. The court allowed them to meet their family members inside the courtroom for a while. Most of the family members told media persons that they don't know what to say as the sentence had shocked them. They also said they would appeal against the order.

Trial proceedings
The same TADA court had earlier conducted the trial from 1995 to 2006, during which judge Pramod Kode had convicted 100 and acquitted 23.

It had awarded 12 death sentences and 20 life sentences. On March 21, 2013, the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence of convict Yakub Memon and his brother Tiger, and commuted death sentence of 10 others to life term. Life imprisonment of 16 convicts was also upheld, the same of two others was reduced, while the sentence of six others was enhanced to life term. Yakub was hanged in July 2015.

Actor Sanjay Dutt was only convicted under sections of the Arms Act, which was upheld, and his sentence was reduced to five years in jail.

Witness numbers
In the first trial, the prosecution had examined 686 witnesses, out which 400-odd were called again for deposition in this trial, with the defence cross-examining them. CBI counsel Deepak Salvi added 64 witnesses and examined them. The defence had called another 45 to the box. Around 40 witnesses out of the 750 turned hostile.

As told to Suraj Ojha