The Supreme Court on Thursday said the Mumbai blasts could have been averted if Mumbai police had prevented its personnel from conniving in the smuggling of arms, explosives, contraband and bribery in 1993.
"If Bombay police officials had been able to curtail the conveyance of the contraband in January and February 1993, the occurrence of the March 12, 1993, could have been avoided," the apex court bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice BS Chauhan said in their judgment on cross-appeals by the convicted and Maharashtra government in the blast cases.
While upholding the death sentence of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, the court 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.
Reminding Mumbai police of its duties and obligations, the court said, "Police officials are the foundation for the existence of the rule of law. If they collapse, the whole system breaks down. Hence, they have sensitive responsibility to defend the safety and security of the people at all times."
"Unfortunately, in the present case, police officers themselves had taken active part in smuggling and transportation of arms and explosives in Bombay," the court said.
Pointing out that the explosive devices could be "manufactured, transported, handled and fitted with a variety of unsuspecting objects multiplying their potential manifold", the court said that "police have a specific and special role, a duty and a responsibility, to curb the conveyance of explosives by vigilant patrolling and search and seizure, if required".
The court said that "Section 20 of the Arms Act, 1959, empowers them (police) to arrest persons conveying any arms or ammunitions under suspicious circumstances".