Prachi Pinglay

MUMBAI: A special court on Monday sentenced to six-year rigorous imprisonment four former policemen, who let a contraband of explosive substances, arms and ammunition, used in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, pass through a checkpost.

Mansoor Ahmed, who went with gangster Abu Salem to actor Sanjay Dutt's place here for delivery of rifles, was awarded 10-year RI.

While the former policemen were fined Rs. 25,000, it was Rs. 50,000 for Mansoor. All of them were convicted in September 2006 under Section 3 (3) of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, which pertains to aiding and abetting in a terrorist act.

Upholds the case

Special judge P.D. Kode upheld the prosecution case that Ashok Munneshwar, P.M. Mahadik, R.D. Mali and S.V. Palshikar had in January 1993 allowed a truck carrying arms and ammunition to enter the city and omitted to check the goods even after stopping it at "Dongar Phata in the Konkan region," in return for a bribe of Rs. 7 lakh. At that time, they were posted at the Shrivardhan police station.

On the prosecution plea for the maximum sentence for the former policemen, the judge said they were only subordinates of PSI V.K. Patil, who was the main decision maker and they would have merely followed his orders. At the same time, the defence plea for leniency as they were already absolved of the conspiracy charge did not hold for, they committed the crime knowingly for a bribe of Rs. 7 lakh.

Mr. Kode said it was unfortunate that the policemen had haggled over the bribe in the open and even kept a silver brick as pledge when the money was not given, when they could have prevented the blasts. Showing them any leniency would send a wrong signal to society.

When the sentence was announced all the four middle-aged, former policemen cried. They already served around three years in jail before they got bail and will have to serve another three years.

"Poor families"

Defence counsel Farhana Shah pleaded that their families were poor and could not afford to pay the fine. In default, they would have to spend another six months in jail. However, the judge said the fine would not be reduced.

Later the judge announced the sentence for Mansoor, who was convicted for accompanying, in his own car, Abu Salem to Sanjay Dutt's house to deliver weapons. Mansoor's car, seized by the police, was part of the evidence. He was absolved of the conspiracy charge as well as offences punishable under the Explosives Act.

The court said Mansoor had served over nine years as undertrial. When defence counsel Subhash Kanse pleaded for a reduction of the fine, it said carrying rifles such as AK 56 was a grave offence.

However, Mr. Kode did not declare the grounds for sentencing him.

Mansoor is also facing another case of extortion, because of which his bail stood cancelled. He has served nearly 10 years in custody.

Reporter beaten up

After the court proceedings, a reporter of a local daily was allegedly beaten up by some of the accused on the court premises at 3 p.m. The accused had made complaints about a report published in the tabloid and they wanted some action taken. They vented their ire on the reporter as no apology was published.