New Delhi, Mar 21: The Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Yakub Memon, one of the main accused in the 1993 Bombay blasts case, but commuted the sentences of 10 other accused to life imprisonment.
These convicts were granted relief on Thursday as they have already spent 20 years in jail. The apex court observed that the family of the convicts were facing financial problems.
The trial court had convicted all of them for the 13 bomb blasts that took place across the capital of Maharashtra on Mar 12, 1993. The serial explosions claimed 257 lives (this is the official death toll but the actual figure is believed to be well over 300).
As many as 129 persons were charged under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act but the trial court found only 100 of the accused guilty.
The Supreme Court said on Thursday that the deadly conspiracy behind the 1993 blasts was hatched by Dawood Ibrahim, head of the crime syndicate D-Company, and other accused who are now suspected to be hiding in Pakistan.
Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) gave training to the convicts in bomb making and also taught them how to handle sophisticated weapons, the apex court said.
The training was given in Pakistan, the court said in its ruling. Yakub Memon, his brother Tiger Memon, Dawood Ibrahim and the other absconding accused in the case were the "archers" while the rest of the convicts were just "arrows" in their hands, the Supreme Court said.
The Maharashtra Police, Customs officials and the Coast Guard cannot escape blame for the Bombay blasts because the authorities did not prevent the accused from assembling and planting the bombs at different places, the court said.
Incidentally, a person who had received training in Pakistan surrendered to the police three days before the Bombay blasts. He revealed a plot to bomb several locations across India's financial capital. However, police did not believe him. Had they heeded his warning, the deadliest blasts in the country's history would perhaps have been averted.