Blasts case: TADA court frames charges against Salem, aide

Staff Reporter

Court to decide on clubbing of trials

Both pleaded not guilty to charges read out to themSiddique provided car to Salem to ferry firearms from Bharuch to MumbaiDuo charged under provisions of IPC, Explosives Act, Arms Act

MUMBAI: A designated TADA court on Saturday framed charges against extradited gangster Abu Salem and his aide Riyaz Siddique for their alleged role in acquiring and distributing arms and ammunition in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.

However, both pleaded not guilty to the charges. The court is likely to decide by next week whether their trial will be clubbed with the main trial, which concluded a year ago, or held separately.

Confession retracted

The prosecution filed a supplementary charge sheet on March 1, 2006. On the same day, Salem's confession, which implicated actor Sanjay Dutt, was read out in court.

A week later, Salem, however, retracted his confession. But, as per rules of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, even a retracted confession is admissible, based on the judge's discretion.

Abu Salem has been charged with acquiring at least nine AK-56 rifles and 100 hand grenades from Bharuch in January 1993 with the help of Baba Musa Chauhan.

He delivered firearms to actor Sanjay Dutt's house along with Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala.

He allegedly did so at the behest of Anees Ibrahim, brother of absconding underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

Conspiracy behind blasts

He has also been charged with participating in the conspiracy that led to the serial blasts in 1993.

Designated judge P. D. Kode framed charges against Salem for offences punishable under Section 3(3) (collecting and distributing arms and ammunition to co-accused), 5 (possessing firearms and weapons) and 6 (transporting and storing firearms and weapons) of TADA, Section 3 and 4 read with section 6 of Explosive Substances Act (possessing and transporting explosives), Section 3 and 7 read with Section 25 (1-A) (1-B) (a) of Arms Act (possessing and carrying firearms and explosives) and 120-b (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

Siddique, too, has been charged with participating in the conspiracy.

He has also been charged with providing a vehicle to Abu Salem in which arms and ammunition were brought from Bharuch in Gujarat to Mumbai in January, 1993. The vehicle had a secret compartment where the rifles and hand grenades were stored.

Judge Kode framed charges against Siddique for offences punishable under sections section 120-b (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and Section 3 (3) of TADA (P) Act (helping accused in transporting arms and ammunition).