1993 Bombay Blasts- Supreme Court To Hear 'Juvenile' Convict's Article 32 Challenge To Life Sentence Next Week

Mehal Jain

19 Nov 2020 11:50 AM GMT

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  • 1993 Bombay Blasts- Supreme Court To Hear Juvenile Convicts Article 32 Challenge To Life Sentence Next Week

    The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a writ petition next week against its March 21, 2013 decision upholding the conviction of Muhammad Moin Faridulla Qureshi in the 1993 Mumbai blasts and the sentence of life imprisonment.Qureshi, who claimes that he was 17 years and 3 months old when he loaded vehicles with explosives and fitted them with timers to devastating effect on March 12,...

    The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a writ petition next week against its March 21, 2013 decision upholding the conviction of Muhammad Moin Faridulla Qureshi in the 1993 Mumbai blasts and the sentence of life imprisonment.

    Qureshi, who claimes that he was 17 years and 3 months old when he loaded vehicles with explosives and fitted them with timers to devastating effect on March 12, 1993 in Mumbai, had invoked the provisions of Juvenile Justice Act to seek leniency.
    When a fresh writ petition under Article 32 came up on the docket before Justice D.Y. Chandrachud on Thursday, he observed, "The issue of juvenility has attained finality in your case. In your case, it was addressed. Now, a 32 petition cannot be filed. You have the remedy of a review or a curative plea"
    The judge pointed to Senior Counsel S. Nagamuthu, for the petitioner, the observations in the 2016 authority in another writ petition against the upholding of conviction and life imprisonment by the Apex Court under Section 3 of the TADA and under Section 302 read with Section 120B of the IPC. "The present writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by no stretch of reasoning would fit into any of the permissible categories of post conviction exercises permissible in law as laid down by this Court", quoted Justice Chandrachud from the judgment.
    "The review in our case was dismissed...and the procedure does not matter under 32", urged Mr. Nagamuthu.
    "No,.no, no. Come in a curative petition", said Justice Chandrachud.
    Mr. Nagamuthu sought to make submissions and cite two judgments of the Supreme Court on the issue of the Juvenile Justice Act and 'trial as an adult'- "The conflict can be corrected only by Your Lordships. There is a problem in trial courts because of this. Please let me make an attempt. Please post this matter before a three-judge bench", he prayed.
    The bench of Justice Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra then agreed to post the matter next week, to be taken up in a 3-judge bench combination.
    "There is no justification whatsoever to restrict the meaning of `any person' and `whoever' only to a major or non-juvenile as such an interpretation would have a potentiality to defeat the object of TADA", the Apex Court had noted in the impugned judgment of 2013.
    The bench had expressed that it is clear that the appellant from his conduct cannot by any stretch of imagination qualify as a child in need of care and protection as the acts committed by him are so grave and heinous warranting the maximum penalty but the Designated Court after considering all these factors awarded him lesser punishment when the co-accused who accompanied him to Fishermens' colony and committed similar acts were awarded with the maximum punishment for heinous acts committed by them along with co-accused.

    From the reading of the entire evidence placed by the prosecution, the bench had concluded that it is established beyond doubt that:

    (i) The appellant took oath that he will take revenge against Hindus;

    (ii) The appellant received training in handling of arms and explosives at Sandheri and Borghat;

    (iii) He attended conspiratorial meeting at the residence of co-accused

    (iv) He participated in filling of RDX and iron scraps in vehicles in the intervening night of 11/12.03.1993 at Al-Hussaini Building;

    (v) He along with other co-accused lobbed hand-grenades at Mahim Fishermens' colony;

    (vi) He possessed 17 hand-grenades which were concealed in the over-head water tank, which were recovered at his instance.

    "Upon a reading of the entire evidence, we hold that all the charges framed against him stand proved beyond any doubt...we confirm the conviction and sentence awarded by the Designated Court, consequently, the appeals are dismissed", it was ruled.

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