The 69 persons convicted by the Special TADA court for their participation in the 1993 serial bomb blast case on Monday, fielded a lawyer from Supreme Court Mushtaq Ahmad to argue their application pleading to drop the TADA charges under which they are found guilty.
The application also urges the court to treat them on par with film actor Sanjay Dutt who has been acquitted of the TADA charges and found guilty under Arms Act.
Lawyer Ahmad who flew down from Delhi contended, "The application was maintainable and it was aimed at getting relief for the convicts before the judge pronounces the final judgement. He said he would be harping on judgments of the apex court and other high courts which empower the trial court judge to amend his own judgment before he pronounces it".
The application states that Dutt has been has been exonerated from charges under TADA for possessing AK-56 rifle and pistol and held guilty under Arms Act. That the actor had possessed hand grenades was supported by confessions of co-accused, the application pointed out.
Most of the convicts had suffered in the aftermath of Babri Masjid demolition and during 1992-93 communal riots and to punish them after 13 years of long drawn trial would make them suffer more hardship, they pleaded. The convicts said that in the past they had not misused any of the bail conditions and they had not committed any other offence while they were on bail earlier.
Citing an Allahabad High Court decision in the case of Subedar versus state, they said the court had the inherent powers to amend the verdict and exonerate them under TADA while holding them guilty for offences under IPC and Arms Act.
Designated judge Pramod Kode adjourned the hearing on the application till Wednesday when the CBI is likely to file a reply. On Tuesday Dutt will appear before the court which would hear arguments on his application under the probation of offenders act and also his plea for extending time to surrender.