Supreme Court upholds Sanjay Dutt's conviction in 1993 Bombay blasts case.
The chickens finally came home to roost on Thursday as the Supreme Court sentenced Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt to three-and-a-half years of imprisonment in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, directing him to surrender within four weeks.
Dutt, who won accolades for his role espousing ‘Gandhigiri’ in Lage Raho Munnabhai, was found guilty by the court of possessing an AK-56 rifle during the blasts, which were organised by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and others at the behest of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI.
The actor was convicted by the TADA court for illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56, part of a consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for the coordinated serial blasts which killed 257 people and injured over 700.
While the apex court upheld the ruling of the TADA court given in 2006, it reduced the sentence from six to five years. As Dutt, 53, has already served one-and-a-half years of his sentence, he will be required to serve only the remaining.
The apex court, however, ruled out his release on probation because of the serious nature of his offence. Son of famous late Bollywood stars Sunil Dutt and Nargis, Dutt is currently out on bail.
Bringing to a closure the appeals by the convicts and the state, the bench comprising justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan upheld the death sentences of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, brother of one of the absconding main conspirators Tiger Memon and life sentences of 16 of the 18 convicts. “Management and conspiracy of blasts were done by Dawood Ibrahim and others.” It also said the ISI was involved.
According to the CBI, RDX had come from Pakistan in boats and had landed in Dighy and Shekhadi coasts in Raigad district in January and February 1993. Weapons also arrived and were collected by Tiger’s men. One of these was given to Dutt by Bollywood filmmakers Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala. Hingora supplied AK-56 rifles, magazines, cartridges and hand grenades, which were part of the illegal consignment to be used in the blasts, at Dutt’s Pali Hill residence and has spent six-and-a-half years in jail.
Kadawala was shot dead in February 2001.
The SC modified the nine-year jail term awarded by the TADA court to Hingora to the jail term he has already undergone. The death sentences of 10 others were commuted to life by the court on the condition that they will remain in prison till their natural death. The life sentence of one Ashrafur Rehman Azimulla was reduced to 10 years, while Imtiyaz Yunusmiya Ghavte was set free since he has already served his jail term.
The court upheld the five-year jail term awarded to Zaibunnisa Anwar Kazi, for storing AK-56s and hand grenades, as well as the five-year sentence of Yusuf Mohsin Nulwalla, a close friend of Dutt, who was held guilty of destroying the weapons kept at Dutt’s house.
The two-year jail term for Kersi Bapuji Adjania, who was sentenced for destroying weapons in Dutt’s possession, was also upheld. According to the CBI, Yusuf Mohsin Nulwalla, a close friend of Dutt, picked up the weapons from Dutt’s house, took them to Adjania and then destroyed them.