Mumbai: RDX cannot be used as a powder to kill mosquitoes and flies, the Special TADA court in Mumbai observed while awarding death sentence to Tahir Merchant and Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan and life term to gangster Abu Salem in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
Noting that the accused had knowledge about the crime, the court yesterday said "it cannot be assumed that AK-56 rifles were being distributed in schools in Bombay as toys."
The Special TADA court yesterday awarded death sentence to Merchant and Khan in the case but Abu Salem escaped the noose and was handed down life imprisonment due to a provision in the Extradition Act.
Besides Abu Salem, the court sentenced Karimullah Khan to life imprisonment, while awarding 10 years in jail to the fifth convict, Riyaz Siddiqui. "It is necessary to mention that RDX cannot be used as a powder to kill mosquitoes and flies and it cannot be assumed that AK-56 rifles were being distributed in schools in Bombay as toys. The accused had knowledge about the offence," Special TADA court Judge G A Sanap said in his judgement.
It is necessary to note that the conspirators and the perpetrators of the crime rejoiced at its success and when it came to face the consequences they were getting justice, the court observed in the 2,100-page judgement.
The court also observed that the punishment must be proportionate to the depravity and gravity of crime. "Offences and offenders of terrorism need to be dealt with sternly. Further generations need to be saved from the menace of terrorism," judge Sanap observed.
A lenient view in such cases can weaken the fight and collective efforts to combat terrorism, the court said.
The court had in June convicted six persons, including prime accused Mustafa Dossa and Salem, 24 years after the blasts left 257 people dead in Mumbai.
It, however, let off accused Abdul Quayyum for want of evidence.
The court also imposed a fine totalling Rs 27.09 lakh on the five accused. Firoz was fined Rs 4.75 lakh, Karimullah Rs 8.88 lakh, Tahir Rs 4.85 lakh, Salem Rs 8.51 lakh and Siddiqui Rs 10,000.
Abu Salem escaped death sentence as the Extradition Act bars India from seeking capital punishment for an accused extradited from a country where the practice is not in force.
Before Salem's extradition in 2004 following his arrest in 2002 in Portugal, India had assured Lisbon that he would not be awarded capital punishment, if convicted in the case.
This was the second stage of trial in the case.