NEW DELHI  - India’s top court upheld the death penalty on Thursday for a mastermind of the country’s deadliest series of attacks and ruled Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt who bought weapons from the bombers must return to jail.

Yakub Memon, brother of the alleged main plotter and fugitive Tiger Memon, was the only one of 11 convicts to see his death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court for his role in the 1993 blasts which killed 257 people in Mumbai.

The judges also handed down a five-year term for Sanjay Dutt for possessing illegal weapons bought from gangsters accused of orchestrating the bombings. Dutt has already served 18 months but is currently out on bail.

The son of a Hindu father and Muslim mother, Dutt said the weapons were necessary in order to defend his family during the Hindu-Muslim rioting of 1993 which had followed the destruction by Hindu zealots of the Babri mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya.

Announcing the sentences, Supreme Court judge P Sathashivam said the Memon brothers and another suspect, Dawood Ibrahim, “were archers and the rest of the appellants were arrows in their hands”.

“They were the architects of the blasts,” Sathashivam, one of two judges presiding over the case, said.

The remaining convicts who had appealed against the death penalty saw their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

The attacks on March 12, 1993, were believed to have been staged by Mumbai’s underworld in retaliation for anti-Muslim violence that left more than 1,000 dead in the city a few months earlier.

Yakub, an accountant by profession, his brothers Essa and Yusuf and sister-in-law Rubina were all convicted for their involvement in the serial blasts at 13 different locations. The Bombay Stock Exchange, the offices of the national carrier Air India and the luxury Sea Rock hotel were among the targets. Executions are only carried out for “the rarest of rare” cases in India but President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected a number of mercy pleas in the last few months, ending an unofficial eight-year moratorium.

Dutt, who was appealing against an original six-year term, spent 18 months behind bars before being bailed in 2007.

During a police raid, investigators uncovered a pistol and an AK-56 rifle which were part of the consignment of weapons and explosives. Dutt, a one-time heavy drug user who has a reputation as one of Bollywood’s bad boys, had admitted buying the weapons but insisted they were only meant to protect his family.

The 53-year-old in a statement said he “respected” the court’s verdict. “I have already suffered for 20 years and been in jail for 18 months. If they want me to suffer more I have to be strong,” he said.

“I am heart broken because today along with me, my three children and my wife and my family will undergo the punishment,” he said in the statement. “I have always respected the judicial system and will continue to do so, even with tears in my eyes,” he said and added that he was also “shattered and in emotional distress” following the court’s order.

The actor shot to fame in the mid-1980s in a string of action movies in which he performed his own stunts, earning him the nickname “Deadly Dutt”.

Dutt’s first wife died of cancer while his second marriage, to a model, ended in divorce. He married for a third time in 2008.