Pronouncing the guilty verdict on the 10 prime accused, Special POTA Judge P.R. Deshmukh on March 29 acquitted three others for lack of sufficient evidence.
Forcefully arguing on the quantum of sentencing for the 10 guilty, Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian said: “Considering the role of the convict Muzammil Ansari, he deserves nothing less than the death penalty… The other convicts should also be given life.”
The defence lawyers closed their arguments on the quantum of sentence on Monday.
The prosecution said the accused, mostly members of the outlawed SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), wanted to avenge the razing of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992 and the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002.
The court convicted Saquib Nachan, a former general secretary of the outfit, who was described by police as the “mastermind” of the triple blasts.
Besides Nachan, the nine others found guilty are: Muzammil Ansari, Ateef Nasir Mulla, Hasib Zubeir Mulla, Gulam Khotal, Mohammed Kamil, Farhan Khot, Noor M. Malik, Dr. Wahid Ansari and Anwar Ali Khan.
Haroon Lohar, Nadeem Paloba and Adnan Mulla were acquitted by the court for lack of sufficient evidence against them.
The blasts occurred near McDonald’s eatery in Mumbai Central Terminus on December 6, 2002, another in a Vile Parle market on January 27, 2003, and the third in a crowded ladies first class compartment of a suburban train near Mulund on March 13, 2003, killing 12 and injuring over 139 others.
The three cases — though far between and in different parts of Mumbai — were clubbed together by the court as a common conspiracy linked them.
All the accused were charged with murder, attempt to murder, causing grievous hurt, waging war against the nation, criminal conspiracy besides several charges under the Indian Penal Code, Railways Act, Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act and POTA — some of which attract the maximum death penalty.