| Rubeena Memon, who was held guilty in the blasts case, arrives at the anti-terror court in Mumbai. (PTI)
Mumbai, Dec. 4: Judge Pramod Kode today delivered the last verdict in the 1993 blasts case, setting the stage for the final exercise — sentencing the 100 convicted.
Staggered over three months, it has been the country’s longest-running judgment.
The judge, who held six more Tiger Memon aides guilty today, reached another milestone. The 100 convictions are the highest in a single case in the country.
Arguments on the quantum of punishment have been scheduled from December 11 and the sentencing is expected to be over by the end of January.
Bashir Khairullah, Zakir Hussain Shaikh, Abdul Khan, Feroze Malik, Moin Qureshi and Salim Rahim Shaikh were today found guilty of throwing grenades at Fishermen’s Colony in Mahim on March 12, 1993, killing three persons and injuring six.
According to the CBI, they threw the grenades at the predominantly Hindu colony with the intention of triggering a communal riot.
The incident did spark violence in the area sandwiched between Mahim and Bandra, which have large Muslim populations. Police, however, brought the situation under control.
Kode found the six guilty under Section 3 (3) of the anti-terror law for aiding and abetting a terrorist act, travelling to Pakistan for arms training and attending conspiracy meetings called by Memon.
They face at least five years in prison and could be jailed for life.
Among the 123 charged in the case, Sanjay Dutt had the highest profile. Held guilty under sections of the arms act for possessing a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle, the actor could be jailed for up to 10 years, with the 16 months he has already spent in custody deducted.
The court also convicted four of Sanjay’s friends, who allegedly helped destroy the two weapons, and four members of Tiger Memon’s family. Five former customs officials and several police officers were nailed for accepting bribes from conspirators and helping smuggle arms.
Thirty-seven of the accused, including key conspirators Dawood Ibrahim, Memon and Mohammed Dossa, continue to abscond, said .P. Chatwal, CBI deputy inspector-general of police.
He added that the CBI has declared them proclaimed absconders and Interpol has issued red-corner notices against them.
With the sentencing likely to drag till the end of January, Dutt is almost certain to return to the high-security Arthur Road jail on December 19, the day he has been asked to surrender before the anti-terror court.
The Lage Raho Munnabhai star has been in jail twice — in 1993 and 1994, when his interim bail was cancelled after the blasts trial began.
“As soon as Judge Kode gives the operative order on his quantum of punishment, he is free to move the Supreme Court. Whether he will continue to stay in jail will depend on the apex court’s orders thereafter,” said defence lawyer Subhash Kanse.