1993 blast: Accused claiming juvenile dismissed
Mumbai, Nov 22: Designated TADA Court here, pronouncing the final verdict in the 1993 serial bomb blast cases today dismissed a plea moved by blast accused Moin Quereshi claiming the juvenile status and seeking direction to transfer it to Juvenile Court.
TADA court judge P D Kode, while dismissing his plea held the accused cannot take advantage of the amendment in Juvenile Justice Act as he was not a juvenile at the time of his arrest and also while he was chargesheeted before the amendment was introduced in 2006.
The court also observed the accused cannot file an application under section 7-A of the Juvenile Justice Act as the same is not applicable to him and he can only be tried by this court under TADA as the offence disclosed by him was under TADA.
Advocate O S Siddiqui, who had earlier moved an application, told the court the accused was arrested in April 1993 while his age was 17 years and 3 months. At the time while the accused was arrested, Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 was in existence and the minor age was defined as 16 years but later the same was amended in 2006 in which the minor age was described as 18 years. Hence, as per the amendment the accused was minor at the time of his arrest, therefore TADA court does not have any right to try him.
While supporting his argument he had also cited a Chennai High Court order in which a minor Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) accused case was transferred to the Juvenile Court after the amendment took place.
While disagreeing with the argument made by the defence, the court said that the citation produced before the court was under POTA but not under TADA.
The application was strongly opposed by the prosecution on the ground that it was an attempt made by the defence to obstruct the ongoing smooth process of delivering the final verdict.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam while arguing on behalf of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) contended that the application needs to be dismissed as it was made with an aim to obstruct the judicial process.
He said the accused can only take advantage of the amendment while he would be considered as a minor in case if he was arrested after the amendment in 2006.
Qureshi, accused of throwing the handgrenade at Mahim Causeway in Mumbai suburb is languishing at Arthur Road jail in south central Mumbai from the day of his arrest.
He is facing 11 charges under various sections of TADA, Indian Penal Code (IPC), Arms Act and others. Police had earlier recovered 17 handgrenades at his instance from a residential building at Mahim.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the court could not record the statement of underworld don Ejaz Pathan which is required to be recorded before the court decides the quantum of punishment to him.
The court may record his statement tomorrow as today he was being taken to Government-run J J Hospital for a MRI test.
His associate Dawood Khan, who was found guilty last week by the court for possessing three AK-56 rifles and nine magazines in the notified area of Greater Mumbai, today urged the court to award him lesser punishment as his wife, aged mother and five minor children were solely dependent on him and he was the only earning member of the family.