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Convicts in '93 blast case rely upon Srikrishna Comm report
December 11, 2006 20:22 IST
Convicts in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case argued on Monday on quantum of sentence to be awarded to them by the trial court by relying upon the findings of Srikrishna Commission of inquiry report to point out the circumstances under which the serial explosions occurred.
However, the CBI, objected saying the Commission report cannot be used by the convicts to defend themselves on the quantum of punishment to be given to them by the TADA court.
Defence lawyer Harshad Ponda, arguing on behalf of those convicted for aiding and abetting terrorist acts, harped on the Srikrishna Commission report, which described the circumstances including the Babri Masjid demolition leading to 1992 communal riots and subsequent bomb blasts.
He said the terms of reference of Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry Act included the communal riots of 1992-93 and bomb blasts of March 1993 as both were interlinked.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, however, objected saying the provisions of Commission of Inquiry Act laid down that the report of a commission of inquiry could not be used as evidence in any court of law.
He said the findings of the Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry were recommendatory in nature and could not be used in the blast trial to justify the acts committed by the accused.
Defence lawyer Ponda contended that the Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry report was a public document and could be used as corroborative evidence in the blast trial.
Nikam countered his argument saying the Commission of Inquiry Act specifically prohibited making use of such report and questioned the use of Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry report for submitting arguments on quantum of sentence to be awarded to convicts.
The defence lawyer focussed his arguments on the convicts who have been held guilty under section 3(3) of TADA (P) Act for aiding and abetting terrorist acts.
These include Ashraf-ur-rehman, Mulchand Shah, Noor Mohammed, Liyakat Ali Shaikh, Sharif Parkar and Dawood Phanse.
Mulchand was convicted for financing prime accused Tiger Memon's terrorist activities, while Parkar and Phanse were held guilty of helping Tiger in smuggling arms and RDX which were used in the blasts. Others were convicted for facilitating transport of arms.
Ponda submitted that for the purpose of giving punishment, the convicts would have to be categorised on the basis of terrorist acts committed by them, namely attempt to commit, advocate to commit, abet offence, advise others to commit acts, inciting others to commit acts and knowingly facilitating such acts.
He said acts which are preparatory in nature would invite lesser punishment while those directly involving commission of terrorist acts would attract more severe sentence.
On the categorisation of the accused for awarding punishment, the defence lawyer relied upon Supreme Court judgements in Nalini v/s Government of India in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The arguments were inconclusive and will continue before Judge P D Kode. The exercise is expected to last for a month before the court declares quantum of sentence for each accused.
The court has held 100 accused guilty of various offences leading to serial bomb blasts which claimed 257 lives on March 12, 1993. Twenty-three others were acquitted due to lack of evidence.