1993 Mumbai Bombings: TADA Court pronounces sentence for the accused
A special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Court sentenced the convicts of the 1993 Mumbai Bomb Blasts on Thursday, September 7, 2017. Two of the five convicts, namely Taher Merchant and Feroze Khan was sentenced to death, the infamous Abu Salem and also Karimullah Khan were sentenced to life in jail and Riaz Siddiqui was sentenced to 10 years in jail. The Court convicted Salem, Merchant, Feroze, and Karimullah on charges of criminal conspiracy, waging war against the Indian government and murder under the Indian Penal Code, and also offenses under the Indian Explosives and Explosive Substances Act. Siddiqui was found guilty on the lesser charge of abetting and aiding terrorism.[i]
The CBI Special Prosecutor Deepak Salvi sought a death sentence for Merchant, Feroze and Karimullah, and life sentences against Salem and Merchant. The key conspirator Mustafa Dossa died pending sentencing. Abu Salem was charged under the Arms and Explosives Act with supplying weapons to the attackers, an offense serious enough to attract the maximum possible punishment of death, but due to the extradition treaty that the Government of India signed with Portugal in 2005 – he could not be awarded the death sentence in India. The death penalty exemption was essential to securing his extradition, as Portugal is a country that has abolished the death penalty under Protocol 4 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (ECHR). Under Article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, no country bound by the Charter (which included Portugal) shall extradite any person, no matter their nationality, to a country where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subject to death penalty[ii].
After the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, there were widespread riots in Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993. The Srikrishna Committee Report found that 900 individuals died, and over 2000 were injured in the riots. The prosecution in the freshly concluded trial claimed that the 1993 bombings were ordered by Islamic militants as revenge for the demolition of the Babri Masjid by Hindu extremists. The attacks occurred on March 12, 1993, in Mumbai – then known as Bombay – when the city was shaken by a series of coordinated blasts which destroyed the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Air India building among other notable locations which killed 257 and injured over 700. They were coordinated by gangster Dawood Ibrahim, leader of the international organized crime syndicate named “D-Company”, who is still absconding.
The first trial of 123 accused with respect to the 1993 blasts ended in the year 2006, which with the conviction of 100 by Justice P.D. Kode in a specially designed TADA court. This included Yakub Memon, who was described by the apex court as the “archer” of the attack, confirming his sentence to death on March 21, 2013. His brother, Tiger Memon, also a key conspirator to the attack, is just one among several other accomplices to the attack who remain absconding. The sentencing brings a somewhat bittersweet and long-drawn-out end to the 24-year long fight for justice of the victims of the deadly bombings.
[i] 1993 Mumbai blasts: Death for 2, Abu Salem, Karimullah Khan get life (September 7, 2017), http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/1993-mumbai-blasts-abu-salem-karimullah-khan-sentenced-to-life-in-jail/articleshow/60403757.cms
[ii] Charter of Fundamental Rights Of The European Union, ((September 7, 2017), http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf
Author: Jui Masurekar
College: Pravin Gnadhi College of Law
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