Fourteen years after they were named as accused in the first-ever terrorist attack the city witnessed, all 23 of them heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday when the Special TADA court finally acquitted them of all charges against them. Most of them were let off due to lack of evidence while a few were given the benefit of the doubt.
Though they were held not guilty nine months ago, the final pronouncement was made on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the final sentencing of the 100 convicts in the case is likely to commence on May 18 and may go on till the end of the month.
Among those acquitted by special judge Pramod Kode are Hanifa Memon, mother of prime accused Tiger Memon, his brother Suleiman and several others who were charged with serious offences like aiding and abetting the blast conspirators and being part of the conspiracy. The serial blasts that rocked the city killed 257 and injured hundreds.
All the accused, who had been summoned to court for the judgment, were made to stand in line. The court officer then informed them that they were free of all charges. “You all are set free,” said Kode, following which the celebrations started.
Ajay Marwah, one of those acquitted and a friend of actor Sanjay Dutt, was heard telling one of the lady constables there: “Madam, ata nahin yenar (I will not come back now).”