The special Terrorist And Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) court on Thursday convicted four more persons in the 1993 serial blasts case.
Two customs officials, Jayvant Gurav and SS Talawadekar were convicted for aiding and abetting key conspirators Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim in landing the explosives and facilitating the transportation of the consignment from Raigad to Mumbai.
The court also held Ayub Ibrahim Qureshi, guilty for possessing a pistol, 52 live rounds of ammunition and spare magazines in a notified area. Incidentally, actor Sanjay Dutt also faces a similar charge.
Judge Pramod Kode convicted Gurav for aiding and abetting conspirators, Mohammed Dossa and Tiger Memon in landing the arms and ammunition at Shekhadi and Dighi.
He was also held guilty for bribing police officials to allow the smooth passage of vehicles into the city and also piloted one of the government vehicles carrying explosives from Godhar Phata in Raigad to Mumbai.
The court also convicted Gurav for the charge of knowingly facilitating the transportation of arms in lieu of bribe.
However, Judge Kode acquitted Gurav of the charge of conspiracy, the court observed that the conviction was based on the confessional statement of Gurav and other co-accused.
In the confession Gurav had stated that he was unaware of the explosives and cleared the consignment thinking it was silver smuggling for Tiger as he had been doing for him earlier.
Kode also observed that the prosecution had failed to provide any evidence to convict him under conspiracy.
As the court convicted him, Gurav a resident of Dombivali wearing a creame shirt and trousers pleaded before the court, "Sir malla soda, mala mahite nahuta ki the explosives aheyet. Sir maala customs act madhe dya TADA naaka laun", (Sir please leave me, I did not knew it was explosives, thought it was silver. Please don't convict me under TADA but do it under customs act).
It is then Judge Kode interrupted and said, "It was your duty to check the goods being a customs inspector and conviction under TADA is better than under customs act. You are you were a government official and sentence is tougher under customs act."
Gurav was 38-year-old when arrested and was working as a customs inspector. He has spent five years in custody and since out on bail has been earning his livelihood by selling vegetables at Dombivali area.
The five custom officials who are involved in the blast case were dismissed in 1997 by passing a special Presidential ordinance and have ceased to avail of any retirement benefits.
The second in the dock was the then Customs Superintendent Shrivardhan Talwadekar. Judge Kode convicted him for charges of aiding and abetting conspirators and even after having specific information did not stop the smuggling of arms and ammunition, which landed at Shekhadi and Dighi, but acquitted him of conspiracy.
Judge Kode observed, "The prosecution gave very little evidence or else he could have been convicted under conspiracy. Everything is ruined if you being a senior government official commit such a grave mistake."
The third in the dock was accused number 123 Qureshi charged of possessing a pistol and live cartridges and magazines of the original consignment, which landed for the purpose of creating terrorist acts in a notified area.
Qureshi was given the pistol and ammunition by convict Nasim Barmare, which he had disposed off near a cemetery in Bandra, which was later, recovered. He was acquitted of conspiracy for lack of evidence.
Qureshi is the first person to be convicted on the charge of possession of arms in a notified area based on the confessional statement of convict and recovery of the weapon.
The TADA court has till now pronounced judgment against 77 accused of which 58 have been convicted and 19 acquitted by the court.
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