Two accused in Gateway-Zaveri Bazaar blasts case acquitted

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Mumbai, Nov 17 (UNI) After spending nearly six years in jail, two accused in the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar 2003 blasts case were today acquitted by the designated POTA court here as per the directive of the apex court.

Designated POTA judge M R Puranik, while passing the order, said that the Central POTA Review Committee had recommended to discharge them from the entire case. However, since the charges have already been filed, they had to be acquitted.

Mohammed Ansari alias Usman Ladoowala and Mohammed Ansar Shaikh alias Hasan Batterywala were arrested from Mumbra in district Thane and Kurla in the Mumbai suburb, respectively, in 2003 and filed an application before the special POTA court, stating that the Supreme Court, on October 21 had upheld the order passed by the Central POTA Review Committee discharging the two from the case registered against them.

The court turned down the prosecution plea that the Review Committee had withdrawn only the provisions of POTA from both of them and not other charges levelled against the two, so both the accused could only be discharged from the provisions of POTA and not from criminal conspiracy, murder and other sections of the Indian Explosives Act, which were also framed against them.

However, Defence advocate Sharif Shaikh, while appearing on behalf of them, argued that the order passed by the review committee, which was upheld by the Apex Court, stated that the case against the two accused is deemed to be withdrawn.

The POTA Review Committee had, in June 2005, discharged the two accused from the provisions of POTA, stating that there was no prima facie case made out against the two.

The apex court observed that once the Review Committee expressed opinion that there was no prima facie case for proceeding against the accused, then such cases shall be deemed to have been withdrawn.

On August 26, 2003, two powerful bombs concealed in parked taxis in the heart of mumbai, killed 50 people and wounded at least 129.

The first blast occurred in a packed shopping area of Zaveri Bazar in south Mumbai, while the next in the city's favourite gathering place, the Gateway of India, also in south Mumbai.

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