The Special TADA court will in the coming week pronounce judgment against film actor Sanjay Dutt, who is accused number 117 in the serial bomb blast case which rocked the city in 1993. Dutt is charged with conspiracy and possession of weapons at his house.
Dutt is the only Bollywood actor to be involved in such a serious offence. He has been out on bail, which was granted to him by the Supreme Court in 1995.
Before being granted bail Dutt had spent 18 months in custody. He spent most of his custody period at the Thane prison separate from the other bomb blast accused.
Judge Pramod Kode is likely to pronounce the judgement against Dutt and other eight co-accused who abetted Dutt and helped in destroying the evidence, one AK-56 rifle and a pistol, which formed the part of the original consignment which were landed by prime conspirator Tiger Memon for the purpose of creating terrorist acts.
Dutt was arrested on April 19, 1993 by the Mumbai crime branch at the Sahar international airport as soon as he landed from Maurituis, where he had gone for shooting. Dutt has been charged with conspiracy under section 120-b of the Indian Penal Code along with section 3 (3) of TADA act.
He is further charged under section 5 of TADA for possessing the weapons in a notified area as was then under the act. Further he is also charged under section 6 of TADA for possessing the weapons with an intention of aiding terrorists and also under the arms act.
Dutt, while in custody, has given the confessional statement to the Mumbai police under section 15 of TADA which he had later retracted in court stating it was taken under duress. However, in the confessional statement, a copy of which is available with Hindustan Times, he has stated that he had agreed to keep the weapons at his bungalow on the request of absconding accused Anees Ibrahim, whom he knew through his friend Sameer Hingora and Baba Chauhan, who were into the film making business.
Dutt has also stated in the confession that he had returned the two AK-56 rifles and kept one with him as he apprehended threat to his life. After the 1993 blast when he came to know that the police were looking for him he had immediately informed his friend Ajay Marwah, who is also an accused, to destroy the weapons kept at his house.
If found guilty under the TADA act Dutt is liable for punishment of minimum five years to maximum life sentence, while if found guilty under conspiracy he faces capital punishment or as the court decides.
Accused who were charged of similar offence
On November 2, the court convicted Ayub Ibrahim Qureshi, for possessing a pistol, 52 live rounds of ammunition and spare magazines in a notified area. Qureshi was charged with 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.
On November 3, the court had convicted Ashraf-Ur-Rehman, Mohd Yusuf Botomiyan and Shaikh Asif Yusuf on charges of possessing arms and ammunition and explosives at the behest of co-accused with an intention of aiding terrorist activities.
On November 10, the court convicted Ayub Ibrahim Patel, a close associate of extradited gangster Abu Salem on charges of possessing 20 hand grenades at his house in Oshiwara.
On November 14, Ehsan Mohammed Qureshi was convicted on charges of possessing a mouser pistol and 16 live cartridges which he had purchased from co-accused Feroz Amani Mallik, which was later recovered from his possession after his arrest.
As per the confessional statement Qureshi had during the 1992 communal riots suffered heavy losses and thus apprehending threats to his family members purchased the weapon to protect them.
On November 15, the court convicted Aziz Ahmed Shaikh, on charges of possessing a US made pistol and three live cartridges which were recovered later at his behest.