Nation Current Affairs 08 Sep 2017 Abu Salem gets life ...

Abu Salem gets life for 1993 serial blasts case

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | KALPESH MHAMUNKAR
Published Sep 8, 2017, 1:45 am IST
Updated Sep 8, 2017, 1:45 am IST
Abu Salem
 Abu Salem

Mumbai: The Special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court on Thursday pronounced the quantum of punishment for five convicts in the March 12, 1993, serial blasts case, awarding death sentences to Firoz Khan and Tahir ‘Taklya’ Merchant, life terms to Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan, and a 10-year jail term to Riyaz Siddiqui.

The judgement came 24 years after 13 blasts ripped apart the city, killing 257 and injuring 713 persons. Thirty accused, including the alleged masterminds — underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, are still absconding.

Retired CBI DIG, O.P. Chhatwal, who had investigated the case said, “As per law, Abu Salem could not have been awarded death sentence because death penalty has been abolished in Portugal. India had assured Portugal, which extradited Abu Salem in 2005, that he will not get a jail term above 25 years.” 

Mr Chhatwal said that the CBI will examine the judgement and see if there is any ground for moving the Supreme Court seeking enhancement of punishment to convicts.

On Thursday, Special TADA Judge G.A. Sanap awarded punishment under various sections of the Tada, IPC, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act and Destruction of Public Property Act. The court said all the accused would have to go through all the punishment concurrently. 

On June 16, the court had held the accused guilty after which the prosecution and defence argued for the quantum of punishment.

24 years later, victims find justice
The court also set off the sentence of the accused against the jail terms they had already served, but clarified that Salem’s term would be set off from the date of his arrest in India, and not keeping in mind the punishment he had undergone in Portugal.

Subsequently, the court imposed fines of Rs 4.75 lakh, Rs 8.88 lakh, Rs 4.85 lakh, Rs 8.51 lakh and Rs 10,000 on Firoz Khan, Karimullah Khan, Merchant, Salem and Siddiqui Rs 10,000 respectively.

The court at the end said that victims and family members of the deceased would be given compensation, as per the Criminal Procedure Code and directed the CBI Mumbai superintendent of police to list the names of all the deceased and injured victims within 15 days and submit it to the district legal services. The court then directed the district legal services to distribute the compensation amount.

On March 12, Ibrahim and his accomplices - seeking to take revenge for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya - targeted important sites in the city such as the Air India building, Shiv Sena Bhavan, Dadar's Plaza cinema, Zaveri Bazar and the Centaur hotel in Juhu. According to officials, vast quantities of RDX were used in this operation.

Initially, 123 people were arrested, of which 100 were convicted in September 2006 but later Salem, Merchant, Karimullah Khan, Siddiqui, Firoz Khan, Abdul Qayuum and gangster Mustafa Dossa were arrested and separate trial took place in the special TADA court.

The court, while convicting the accused, had held that the prosecution had proven that Salem was one of the key conspirators and he had delivered three AK-56 rifles, ammunition and hand grenades to actor Sanjay Dutt. He also allegedly participated in bringing weapons and ammunition to Mumbai. The court had also held that Merchant was amongst the main conspirators as he had attended several conspiracy meetings in Dubai. 

Some legal experts opine that despite being held guilty of conspiracy under the stringent Tada, Salem managed to escape the noose while co-conspirators Tahir Merchant and Feroze Khan were given death penalty. The answer lies in the extradition treaty signed between India and Portugal. 

Retired CBI DIG, O.P. Chhatwal, who had investigated the case said, “As per law Abu Salem could not have been awarded death sentence because death penalty has been abolished in Portugal.” Also, India had assured Portugal, which extradited Abu Salem in 2005 that he will not get a jail term above 25 years.

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