The Supreme Court today pronounced its verdict in the Mar. 12, 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case in which Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt has been slapped with a five-year jail term.

The main accused Yakub Memon, brother of absconding Tiger Memon, was sentenced to death while 10 others got life sentence. Tiger Memon, along with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Mohammed Dossa, had allegedly hatched the conspiracy in Dubai to carry out the serial blasts, following the communal riots that broke out post-Babri Masjid demolition.

Sanjay Dutt was convicted by a special Terrorist & Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) court under Arms Act. He was sentenced to six years jail term for possessing a weapon illegally and had spent 18 months in jail after his arrest in 1993. He was, however, acquitted of the stringent charges under TADA.

A bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan delivered the judgement on the appeals filed by the convicted, also by the CBI challenging the acquittals. The agency had also moved appeals seeking enhancement of sentence of 47 persons who were convicted of lesser offence. CBI had filed 48 appeals of which 20 were against those who were acquitted of all the charges. There is no CBI appeal against Dutt’s acquittal under TADA. The blasts had left 257 persons dead and injured 700. The special TADA court had pronounced death to 12 and sentenced 20 to life.

Sanjay Dutt & his gun

The SC verdict pertaining to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case is finally out after 20 years. Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was riding a wave of success with mega hits like Khalnayak and Saajan when arrested in 1994 from the Mumbai airport.

In his confession that he later retracted, Dutt had said that mafia don Abu Salem visited his home in Jan. 1993 with Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala, proprietors of Magnum Video and allegedly close associates of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

“They had brought three AK-56 rifles with ammunition. I kept one. I needed the gun to protect my family as we had received threats during the Mumbai riots that followed the demolition of Babri mosque in December 1992,” Dutt had said and added, “After I heard of the Mumbai serial blasts and Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala’s arrest, I asked my friend Yusuf Nulwalla to destroy the rifle.”

The actor’s arrest followed. He was charged under the stringent TADA for conspiracy in the blasts and receiving weapons from Abu Salem.

Sanjay Dutt spent 18 months in jail. For his release, his father Sunil Dutt, a loyal Congress politician, turned to Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray for help.

A TADA court, in Nov. 2006, observed that Dutt was not a terrorist and had acquired the gun for self-defense. Dutt was acquitted under TADA, convicted under the milder Arms Act and handed a six-year jail sentence. The Supreme Court granted him bail later.

With three films — Policegiri, Zanjeer and Peekay — under production, nearly Rs. 70 crore is riding on Sanjay Dutt.