Verdicts over, the stage is set for another round of hearings in the 1993 serial blasts case.
Lawyers are supposed to present their final arguments on the quantum of sentence for each of those convicted. This process, starting December 11, is likely to take about two months.
“This is the first time in India’s judicial history that 100 accused have been held guilty in one trial,” said Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. “Our strategy would be to put forth our arguments on the sentence, which we are likely to conclude a week after we begin. The court is likely to deliver the sentences against the convicts in January.”
Added Defence lawyer Farhana Shah: “Senior lawyer Harshad Ponda is likely to argue on December 11 on legal points for all those convicted for aiding and abetting conspirators — under Section 3 (3) of TADA. This attracts a maximum punishment of life sentence.”
He will also argue for Section 3 (2) for all the bomb planters, which attracts a punishment from life sentence to capital punishment. Then the lawyers will argue for individual convicts, which could take a while.
Another lawyer Subhash Kanse said: “Once the arguments are over from the defence and prosecution side, the court will surely take time as both sides are bound to support their arguments, which the court would require time to study before it hands out the judgment.”
The final sentence would be delivered only by mid-January as the court would also go on leave during Christmas, Kanse added.
Of the convicted, nine including actor Sanjay Dutt have been given time to surrender on personal or medical grounds. The convicts will have to surrender before court and stay in custody till judgment is delivered.