New Delhi: In a major development, the Bombay High Court on Friday upheld the death sentences awarded to three Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists in connection with the 2003 twin blasts in Mumbai, which left at least 57 people dead.
A division bench of Justice AM Khanvilkar and P D Kode
confirmed the death penalty awarded to Ashrat Ansari (32),
Hanif Sayed Anees (46) and his wife Fehmida Sayed (43) but
partially quashed the order of the trial court discharging two
other accused on the basis of a report of the POTA review
The High Court upheld death sentence awarded to them on
all three counts of perpetrating terror, criminal conspiracy
Mohammed Ansari Ladoowala and Mohammed Hasan Batterywala
will now have to face trial, but only under IPC charges that
had been levelled against them and not under POTA. The court
directed them to appear before the trial court in four weeks
for proceedings to be initiated.
The bench, however, stayed the sentence for eight weeks to
allow the convicts to file an appeal in the Supreme Court, in
response to the request of their counsel, Sudeep Pasbola.
The court had on November 12, 2011 reserved its judgement
on confirmation of death sentence to the three after agruments
concluded at a special hearing.
The three had been found guilty by a POTA court of
planting powerful bombs in two taxis which exploded at the
iconic Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar on August 25, 2003.
They were awarded death sentence on August 6.
The conspiracy for the blasts had been hatched by Hanif,
Ashrat, Nasir, a Hyderabad resident, who was later killed in a
police encounter, and some Pakistani nationals owing
allegiance to LeT in Dubai.
The LeT`s role in the twin blasts was revealed by an
accused-turned-approver. The approver was given a pardon by
the court after public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam submitted a
certificate saying he may be discharged.
It was for the first time that LeT had used a family to
carry out bomb blasts in the country.
Along with the couple, Hanif and Fehmida, their
16-year-old daughter was also arrested for the offence but was
later discharged as she was a minor.
Two other accused, Ladoowala and Batterywala, were also
discharged from the case by the trial court on the basis of a
report of the POTA review committee that said there was no
case against the duo.
On the fateful day, Hanif, Fehmida and their daughter had
boarded a taxi from Andheri to Gateway of India and left their
bag in the vehicle telling the taxi driver that they would
return after taking lunch.
Luckily for the driver, the bomb exploded after he had
left his vehicle to take his meal. The driver had later
identified the family in the court.
Ansari had boarded another taxi to Zaveri bazaar where
again he left an explosive-laden bag, telling the driver he
would return. The vehicle exploded shortly afterwards.
The three were convicted under various Sections of IPC,
POTA, Explosive Substances Act and Prevention of Damage to
Public Property Act.
As the convicts were given death sentence by trial court,
the matter was sent to the Bombay High Court for confirmation,
as required under the law.
With Agency Input