Close relatives of Mohammed Ahmed Umar Dossa, one of the absconding accused in the March 1993 serial bomb blasts case, received a major reprieve from the Bombay high court on Friday.
Acting on a petition filed by nine relatives, a division bench of justice PV Hardas and justice MN Gilani directed the Centre to maintain status quo with respect to forfeiting 45 immovable properties that the family owns and 10 bank accounts.
Dossa’s relatives had moved court after an appellate authority on January 3, confirmed an order of the Competent Authority under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act (SAFEMA), 1976, forfeiting the immovable properties — mostly shops near Crawford Market, flats in south Mumbai, a bungalow in Lonavla, and their bank accounts.
On February 29, 2000, the authority had ordered forfeiture of all movable and immovable properties belonging to Dossa’s wife Abida, brothers Haroon and Mustafa, sisters Yasmin and Sabira, parents Ahmed and Amina, sister-in-law Rehmat Merchant and Safia and his brother’s mother-in-law, Mehrunnisa Kadar on the ground that those were illegally acquired.
The relatives contended that the properties were acquired years before Dossa allegedly began his smuggling activities.
They have challenged certain provisions of the SAFEMA, which they claim, give powers to the competent authority to forfeit properties of relatives of persons engaged in smuggling, without stipulating any time frame.
They contended that the Narcotic Drugs and Psychological Substances Act consider only properties acquired by the accused or his relatives six years prior to the offence concerned.