New Delhi: The life imprisonment given to 17 of the 19 convicts in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case was on Thursday upheld by the Supreme Court, but the apex court freed one of them by reducing his sentence saying being an HIV positive patient, his was a "special circumstance". The life term awarded to three family members of one of the absconding main conspirators Tiger Memon was confirmed by the apex court which observed that they "facilitated and abetted the conduct of terrorist acts by Tiger Memon and his associates".
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan while upholding the conviction of Imtiyaz Yunusmiyan Ghavate, an AIDS patient, who had planted a scooter filled with RDX, said there was no need to send him back to jail. "The fact that the appellant (Ghavate) is suffering from AIDS/HIV+ has not been disputed by the CBI. Taking note of all these aspects including the fact that he was in jail nearly for 14 years, while confirming the conviction and sentence, in view of special circumstances, though the life sentence is the appropriate sentence for the proved charges, we order that there is no need to send him back to prison," the bench said.
"In the peculiar circumstance, we make it clear that the period already undergone would be sufficient and with this direction, we dispose of his (Ghavate's) appeal," it said. The apex court reduced to 10 years the life term given to 70-year-old Ashrafur Rehman Azimulla Shaikh, suffering from schizophrenia, on health grounds and also on the fact that he had already spent around eight-and-half years in jail.
"Taking note of all these aspects, we feel that while confirming the conviction (of Shaikh), ends of justice would be met by reducing the sentence of the appellant to RI for 10 years," the bench said.
The designated TADA court's decision to award life term to Essa alias Anjum Abdul Razak Memon, Yusuf Abdul Razak Memon and Rubina Suleman Memon along with 14 others was concurred to by the apex court which dismissed their appeals challenging their conviction and sentenced.