The Central government today told the Supreme Court that there is absolutely no truth in former Special Public Prosecutor in the Malegaon blasts case Rohini Salian’s claim that she was asked to “go soft” on the accused who belonged to right wing Hindu extremist groups.
"The main allegation is that the prosecutor was asked to go soft. I myself have examined the papers. There is no truth in it," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), told the court.
The Attorney General has been given a weeks time by the court to file a counter affidavit on behalf of the government and the agency on the Public Interest Litigation which has alleged that Government was exerting pressure on the SPP Salian to "go soft" on the accused.
Earlier on September 11, the apex court had sought a response from the Centre and the agency on the PIL.
The AG’s submission is significant as the Bench of Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre had wanted to know why action cannot be initiated against officials who who tried to pressurize Salian and whether a special investigation team of the CBI needed to be set up to probe the allegations. The court asked all parties to whom notices have been issued to file replies within a week.
The court was acting on a petition filed by social activist Harsh Mander who urged the apex court to ensure a fair trial.
Mander’s plea referred to her interview with a newspaper and said the executive was attempting to influence the judicial system in breach of repeated directives by the court.
The plea alleged that officials of the NIA had pressured Salian “to go soft on the accused presumably under instructions from their political masters”. It sought a direction to the Centre to appoint a Special Public Prosecutor to conduct a fair trial and constitute a special investigating team of CBI to probe NIA officials who allegedly pressured Salian.
“If there is credible reason to fear that public prosecutors are made to succumb to the wishes of their political masters, it is submitted that public faith in the entire edifice on which the free, fair and transparent trial is based would crumble,” stated the petition.
Mander said unless the apex court steps in, the victims of the Malegaon blasts cannot expect justice in the current scenario due to the “brazen illegalities” allegedly committed by the government.
Salian had said that she had come under pressure from the NIA over the past one year, since “the new government came to power”. Salian is no longer on NIA’s panel of lawyers.
The Malegaon blast, on September 29, 2008, claimed four lives and injured 79 while another blast at the same time in Modasa in Gujarat killed one. Investigations in the case pointed to alleged Hindu extremists based in Indore, as first reported by The Indian Express on October 23, 2010.
Twelve people were arrested in the case, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit. Of the 12, four are on bail.
Citing the interview, the petition alleged that the Ministry of Home Affairs, which runs the NIA, has been trying to pressurise “an honest prosecutor to go soft” on the accused. It said there are reasons to fear that the executive is attempting to influence the judicial system to cave in to the pressure exerted by it in all matters, “including affording protection to right wing extremists who sympathise with its ideology.”
“That the factual conspectus afore-stated goes a long way in showing that the government of the day has tried to interfere with the functioning of special public prosecutor, treating the post as if it is under the Government in utter disregard to the principle laid down by this Court…,” said the PIL