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SOURCE: PTI

A special court in Mumbai on Saturday allowed an application of gangster Abu Salem, serving life sentence in the the 1993 serial blasts case, for reduced jail term in lieu of the detention period during trial.

Extradited from Portugal in 2005, Salem was convicted and awarded life sentence in 2017 for his role in the Mumbai serial blasts case. He is currently lodged in Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai. The jailed gangster had moved an application before the court seeking set-off for the period undergone in prison from the date of arrest-November 11, 2005 till the final judgement in the case on September 7, 2017.

Allowing his plea, the special judge for Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) BD Shelke directed the prison superintendent to give the accused set-off for the period spent during the trial in the Mumbai serial blasts case.

Besides the blast case, Salem was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015 for the murder of city-based builder Pradeep Jain.

Salem contended that jail authorities have given him set off for the period spent by him as undertrial in the builder murder case.

However, no set off was given for the serial blast case, which amounts to contempt of the special court’s order as it had specifically mentioned that “set off be given to the accused for his custody period in this trial from the date of his arrest”, Salem’s plea said.

“It is very odd and unreasonable that in one case the under-trial period is counted and in another case it is not counted, which implies that the designated court order is not followed,” it added.

Salem contended that, in both cases, the life imprisonment will run concurrently as per the order passed by designated TADA court on September 7, 2017.

Additionally, his plea cited the extradition agreement between the government of India and Portugal, under which the main guarantee was no extra offences will be awarded.

“It was also clear that if the applicant is convicted in those offences in which he is extradited then he would not be given more than 25 years. Moreover, he will be eligible for remission and pardon as per Portuguese law,” Salem’s plea added.

The prosecution and the jail authorities rejected the claims of the convicted gangster and submitted that set off to the applicant /convict for the period undergone in custody during trial was granted as per the court’s order.

From the arguments of the advocate for Salem it is transpired he is not disputing the calculation of set-off period in the builder case , but challenging the calculation in the blasts case, the court noted.

On a query made by the court, the accused submitted a report of the jail authorities where the calculation of the set off period is from 11.11.2005 to 06.09.2017, which comes to 11 years 09 months and 26 days.

“However, the earlier jail was not ready to calculate the said period of set off in terms of the order passed by the court. It is now concluded that there is no controversy or dispute between the applicant and jail authority regarding counting the period of set off,” the court said.