23 formally acquitted in '93 blasts case
Twenty-three people on Wednesday were formally acquitted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case by a special TADA court which has started sentencing proceedings of the 100 held guilty, including actor Sanjay Dutt.
Except for three, all the accused were present in the Arthur Road jail premises when special judge of the Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Act (TADA) PD Kode finally set them free.
Amongst the three was Hanifa Memon, mother of key conspirator Tiger Memon who is still absconding.
The sentencing of the other 100 would be taken later in the day.
Dressed in jeans and a pink shirt, Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, who has been convicted under the Arms Act for possessing illegal weapons but absolved of the conspiracy, was seated in the court along with the other accused waiting the quantum of their sentencing.
The star, the cynosure of all eyes, had been in court since morning wearing a bead necklace apparently given by a 'baba' as a good luck charm.
Crowds milled around outside the courtroom and there was massive security.
The final sentencing could take a few weeks to complete because Kode will state his reason behind each of the sentences.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought death penalty for 44 of the convicts who were found guilty of conspiracy and other heinous charges under TADA.
The March 12, 1993 bombings that rocked India's financial and entertainment capital claimed 257 lives, besides maiming hundreds and destroying property worth Rs.300 million.