The Mumbai serial bomb blasts trial reached a turning point when the TADA court convicted Sanjay Dutt under Arms Act and not under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act on last Tuesday. What is the reasoning for this toned down conviction is yet to be known and as many of the lawyers suggested, it can be gauged only after reading the whole judgement.
Look at the consequences of the judgement. Abu Salem might also seek the same treatment from the courts for the same reasoning that goes for Sanjay Dutt. Abu Salem, it has been reported, has been very happy with the turn of events in the TADA court and the way Sanjay Dutt got away from TADA charges. And Abu Salem'sargument is nevertheless credible if you compare it with Sanjay Dutt'srole in the serial bomb blasts.
If Sanjay Dutt sought and stored the arms and ammunition in his house meant for the serial blasts in Mumbai, which killed over 400 people, Abu Salem has just been running errands for the D-company. Looks like Sanjay Dutt'ssentence would set a dangerous precedent. ?While Sanjay Dutt had ordered the weapons from the underworld and kept them in his house, all Salem did was play delivery boy without knowing what the contraband actually contained,? Salem'sadvocate Ashok Sarogi told the press in Mumbai.
The two cases of Abu Salem and Sanjay Dutt had been separated on the grounds that there has been a 13-year-long delay in the judgement in the serial bomb blasts case. Abu Salem was apprehended much recently which could have made the case go even longer, or so it was alleged.
There seems to be so many twists and turns in the bomb blasts case, which as if not enough, the state government in Maharashtra has made sure, becomes murky. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh immediately after the verdict was given by the court stated that the government will not go in for an appeal against the verdict. The BJP in the state promptly put the Chief Minister on notice for the unholy haste to save the Congress MP Priya Dutt'sbrother from any more ignominy.
Priya Dutt has suddenly woken up to the fact that the court has cleared Sanjay Dutt of terrorism charges, but the fact that he is embroiled in the bomb blasts case does not wash off. And if one goes into the case, it is difficult to make out that Sanjay Dutt has not been part of the conspiracy.
But the argument that Sanjay Dutt, with his lately found Gandhigiri, is a reformed person and worthy of pardon, is a little far-fetched. First if someone gets involved in such heinous crime such as bomb blasts, he has to pay for his action. After all over 400 people were killed in those blasts. He was also in touch with the underworld even after the case was lodged, buying them gifts from abroad, as revealed in the telephone transcripts a few years ago, which only tell about a growing chummy relation with the bhais in Dubai. Second, he was son of Sunil Dutt, a Congress MP at the time of the blasts, and it was his bounden duty to inform the police if he was aware of the going-on. Instead, he was the one who kept the guns and grenades in safe custody for the blasts and when his game was up, he tried to destroy evidence only making police job more difficult and also more difficult to bring to book the terrorists behind the blasts. For once, we did not hear that sending Sanjay Dutt on a 10-year jail term would make him a martyr!
The celebrations in the Congress camp are a little bewildering. Probably, they have started to count the votes again from the Muslim community in the soon-to-follow elections in the state after the coverage and the encomiums in the press for Sanjay Dutt. Interestingly it has also been reported that Sanjay Dutt has decided to marry Nadia Durrani after the verdict was announced.
The TADA court also convicted three others in the 1993 serial bomb blasts case last week. Film producer Samir Hingora and Baba Chouhan, a businessman, were held guilty of delivering weapons to Sanjay Dutt'shouse immediately before the blasts. Meanwhile, the court held Rusi Nulla guilty of keeping with him a 9-mm pistol given to him by Sanjay Dutt'sfriend Kersi Adajenia. Nulla'sconviction was under Sections 3 and 7 of the Arms Act.
It is the CBI'sclaim that Sanjay Dutt had asked Yusuf Nallwalla to destroy the AK-56 rifle which was in his custody and a 9-mm pistol lying in a bag in his house. Nallwalla was assisted by Adajenia to destroy the weapons. And look at the ingenuity of mind ? the rifle was melted with a gas cutter. Adajenia gave the pistol to Nulla as Adajenia had to leave for Kolkata on a business trip. Nulla in return gave it to Ajay Marwah.
What is really surprising is that Judge P.D. Kode made it clear that Chouhan was guilty of possessing the weapons, which he delivered to Sanjay Dutt. Chouhan was convicted under Sections 5 and 6 of TADA (P) Act and Sections 3 and 7 of the Arms Act. Hingora was found guilty of conspiracy under Section 120-b of Indian Penal Code. People who delivered the arms and who destroyed them after Sanjay Dutt told them to do it have been charged with conspiracy and TADA, but Sanjay Dutt has only been convicted under the ordinary Arms Act. And therein lies a tale.