Seeking life term imprisonment for extradited gangster Abu Salem in the March 12, 1993, Mumbai serial bomb blasts case, Deepak Salvi, special public prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation said, “Though he deserves death, I am bound to seek a life sentence”.
"Salem is a habitual offender and an incorrigible recidivist, hence leaving no room whatsoever for the accused to assert that there is even a faint glimmer of hope for the accused to reform," said Salvi, before adding, "In the circumstances, though nothing short of the death penalty would aptly fit the demonic crime committed by him," he concluded, "it is prayed, albeit with a heavy heart and a reluctant disposition... to award the punishment for life imprisonment."
Salvi concluded his submissions on sentencing by also seeking life imprisonment for Riyaz Siddiqui, held guilty on June 16 for abetment under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (Tada) to cause the blasts that killed 257 and injured 713.
Special TADA court judge GA Sanap is currently hearing arguments of the prosecution on the quantum of sentence.
In the second set of the trial in the case, the court had on June 16 convicted five accused, including Mustafa Dossa (now deceased) and Salem, of murder, conspiracy and sections of the now-repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, while the sixth accused Riyaz Siddiqui was convicted only under the TADA Act. The prosecution has also sought life term for Siddiqui.
As many as 257 people were killed in the coordinated blasts that ripped through the city on March 12, 1993.
Dossa died last week from a cardiac arrest, a day after the prosecution sought death sentence for him.
The trial of the seven accused - Salem, Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Tahir Merchant and Abdul Quayyum - was separated from the main case as they were arrested when the main trial was nearing conclusion. The court had acquitted Abdul Quayyum of all the charges.
Special Public Prosecutor Deepak Salvi argued in the court today that though Salem deserved capital punishment, in view of the Extradition Treaty with Portugal from where he had been extradited, he should be awarded life term.
As per the section 34 (C) of the Extradition Act, if the law of the country from where an accused has been extradited does not provide for capital punishment, he cannot be awarded death sentence.
Salvi said the country should know the gravity of the offences committed by Salem in the blasts.
The special prosecutor said Salem was the main conspirator who shouldered a "higher degree" of responsibility in planning and executing the blasts.
Salem was a member of the gang led by fugitive mob boss Dawood Ibrahim, he said.
"Salem had had two passports which he used for fleeing the country. He is a habitual offender and the Indian government had submitted a list of crimes committed by him to Portugal while seeking his custody," Salvi said.
Seeking life imprisonment for Siddiqui, Salvi said he had played a significant role in the blasts.
The CBI had last week sought capital punishment for one of the convicts Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan.