Chennai, Sep 15 (PTI) The Madras High Court has directed the counsel for S A Basha, an Al-Umma leader serving life term for the 1998 Coimbatore serial bomb blasts, to file a counter to a petition by an Hindu outfit opposing a plea for his premature release.

Advocate K Gopinath, also the general secretary of Hindu Munnetra Kazhagam, had filed a petition opposing the plea by Basha’s daughter for release of her father.

Gopinath had argued that the habeas corpus plea by Basha’s daughter Mubeena was not maintainable and needed to be dismissed.

Whe the habeas corpus plea came up for hearing on September 12, a division bench of Justices A Selvam and Pon Kalaiyarasan directed the counsel for Basha to file counter to the impleading petition. It then posted the matter for further hearing to October 9.

Gopinath had earlier pointed out that 60 people were killed and over 300 injured in the serial bomb blasts, perpetrated by Basha, in Coimbatore on February 14, 1998.

The serial blasts had taken place ahead of BJP leader L K Advani’s campaign meeting here.

He had said a judicial panel headed by Justice P R Gopalakrishnan had probed the incidents and had confirmed that Al-Umma, a terrorist outfit, was responsible for the attacks and that the trial court had also found Basha to be the mastermind of the same.

Basha was arrested in 1991 by Coimbatore city police in connection with a murder case and was remanded to judicial custody. The trial court awarded life imprisonment to him in the case.

He was also arrested in connection with the 1998 serial bomb blasts cases. The sessions court had on August 1, 2007, convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Basha’s daughter, in her plea, sought the benefit of section 428 of the CrPC for setting off the period of incarceration already served by her father in the 1991 murder case against the jail term served in the blast case.

She contended that the sentences were ordered to run concurrently with the previous conviction in which too her father had been given life term.

She also referred to a 1994 scheme of the Tamil Nadu government for premature release of life convicts on humanitarian grounds after 20 years of actual imprisonment.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.