Trial in the ten year old Malegaon bomb blasts case began in a special court in Mumbai on Friday. Among the accused are Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five others.
Rejecting Purohit’s plea to defer the framing of charges, the NIA court had on Tuesday last charged all the seven accused in the 2008 blasts for terror conspiracy. Purohit had sought adjournment on framing of charges against him in connection with the case. His lawyer had filed an application stating that he will be appealing in the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court ruling which had refused to stay framing of charges by the trial court. The NIA court rejected his plea of deferring the framing of charges and said that the charges are ready.
Six persons were killed and over a 100 injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a power loom town located about 200 km from here in North Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), has submitted a list of 286 witnesses and more than 200 documents before the court in support of its case.
Judge Vinod Padalka has posted the matter for further hearing on November 12.
The court had on October 30 framed charges in the case against all the seven accused for terror activities, criminal conspiracy and murder, among others.
The accused face trial under sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
They were charged under sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA. The court had on October 29 refused Purohit’s request for staying the proceedings in the trial court, noting that in the past, both the Supreme Court and the Bombay HC had passed orders directing the trial court to expedite the hearing in the case.
Under the IPC, they were charged under sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups).
The accused were also charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act.
Apart from Purohit and Sadhvi, the accused are – Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni.
According to the prosecution, the accused had formed the right-wing organisation and held meetings under its name at various places in the country, where the alleged conspiracy was hatched.
On December 27 last year, the special NIA court had dismissed pleas filed by Purohit, Thakur and others seeking to be discharged from the case.
The NIA, after taking over the case, had filed a charge sheet in 2016 giving a clean chit to Sadhvi and three others- Shyam Sahu, Praveen Takalki and Shivnarayan Kalsangra- saying it found no evidence against them and they should be discharged from the case.
The NIA court, however, absolved only Sahu, Kalsangra and Takalki and ruled that Sadhvi will have to face the charges.
-India Legal Bureau