The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to defer the framing of charges against Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit and others in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
A division bench of Justice Mridula Bhatkar and Justice Sandeep Shinde was hearing Purohit’s plea in a set of appeals filed by the accused in the case, seeking directions to the trial court to defer framing of charges against him until his main appeal before the high court challenging the validity of government sanction to prosecute him is decided.
On December 18, 2017, the Bombay High Court had refused to quash the sanction for Purohit’s prosecution. Purohit then moved the Supreme Court but was asked to go back to the high court again and file a fresh plea which is now pending.
Purohit had sought a stay on the framing of charges as Special NIA judge Vinod Padalkar said on September 5, charges will be framed against all the accused in the blast case that led to the death of six persons and left over a hundred injured on September 29, 2008.
On Monday, the high court had stated that appeals of others accused in the case along with Purohit, like Sameer Kulkarni and Sadhvi Pragya will be heard for final hearing starting October 1.
In his plea before the high court, Purohit had challenged the validity of an order dated January 17, 2009, by the Maharashtra government granting sanction to prosecute him.
Submissions before HC
Once NIA took over the investigation in the case, all charges against Sadhvi Pragya and Lt. Col. Purohit were dropped but NIA maintained charges against Purohit under relevant sections of the CrPC and IPC, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Explosive Substances Act and Arms Act in its charge sheet.
Advocate Shrikant Shivade had argued Purohit’s case for bail in the appeal filed by Purohit that is still pending. He had submitted that according to the new clause inserted through an amendment in the UAPA in 2008, a sanction for his client’s arrest should have been taken by an independent authority appointed by the Central government before the state government gave a sanction. However, the said procedure was not followed while granting sanction, Shivde had said.
NIA’s counsel Sandesh Patil then opposed Purohit’s application for bail and had contended that the authority to grant sanction for prosecution against Purohit was always with the state government, however, the extent of authority was defined in an amendment to the UAPA in 2008. Even though an independent authority did not sanction Purohit’s arrest, Patil argued that it was a procedural issue. Patil also stated that it was established that there was a prima facie case against Purohit and trial court had relied on the fact in its order rejecting Purohit’s bail earlier.
Final hearing of appeal
On Monday, the high court stated that appeals of others accused in the case along with Purohit, like Sameer Kulkarni and Sadhvi Pragya will be taken up for final hearing starting October 1.