Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, brother of absconding accused Tiger Memon, is the sole convict who was awarded death sentence by the Supreme Court in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case that had claimed 257 lives and left 713 injured.
The capital punishment of the other 10 death row convicts was commuted to life sentence by a bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan which also upheld the life term awarded to 16 out of 18 convicts.
The bench also allowed the appeal of Central Bureau of Investigation against the acquittal of four persons -- Sharif Abdul Gafoor Parker, Manoj Kumar Gupta, Farooq Motorwala and Mohd Rafique Usman Shaikh.
The apex court upheld the death penalty awarded to Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, a chartered accountant by profession and brother of absconding accused Tiger Memon, by the designated TADA court.
The bench said Yakub Memon was the "driving force" and had played a key role in the conspiracy which "warranted death penalty".
While commuting the death sentence of 10 others to life, the bench said they were people of low strata in the society and were without any regular job and had fallen prey to the main conspirators for their "hidden motives".
The 10 convicts whose death sentence was commuted to life term were -- Abdul Gani Ismail Turk, Parvez Nazir Ahmed Shaikh, Mushtaq Tarani, Asghar Mukadam, Shahnawaz Qureshi, Shoaib Ghansar, Firoze Amani Malki, Zakir Hussain, Abdul Akhtar Khan and Farooq Pawale.
The court noted they were the planters of the explosives and they could not be exonerated for the offence.
It also rejected the contention of Mohammed Moin Faridulla Qureshi, a life convict, seeking discharge from the case on the ground that he was a juvenile at the time of the offence.
While denying any relief to Qureshi under the Juvenile Justice Act, the bench said he was convicted under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act which is a special law dealing with special category of terrorists.
"Therefore, there is no need to apply the law relating to juvenile and we are confirming the life sentence awarded to him," the bench said.
It said Yakub Memon and all absconding accused (Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and others) were "archers" and rest of the accused were "arrows" in their hands.
The life sentence of Ashrafur Rehman Azimulla was reduced by the court to 10 years while that of Imtiyaz Yunusmiya Ghavte to jail term already undergone.
The court also enhanced the 14-year jail term awarded to convict Uttam Shantaram Potdar to life term and it also increased the ten-year imprisonment of Shahjahan Dadamya Hajwane to life sentence.
The apex court said Pakistan-based intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence was also involved in the 1993 blasts and the accused were trained in Pakistan.
The court, on perusing the evidence, said large number of convicted and absconding persons received training in making RDX and using automatic weapons like AK-56 rifle and hand grenades in Pakistan.
Confessional statements of the accused makes it clear that the management of training was under the hands of Dawood Ibrahim and others, the bench said.
It also observed that unfortunately some police officials were also actively involved in the smuggling of explosives.
Image: Yakub Memon
Photograph: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons