Can't Bar Pragya Singh Thakur From Contesting LS Polls, Says Spl NIA Court; Rejects Application By Malegaon Blast Victim's Father

Can

A Special NIA Court on Wednesday rejected the intervention application filed by a 59-year-old resident of Malegaon Nisar Ahmed Sayyed Bilal and refused to restrain Pragya Singh Thakur from contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Bilal's son Sayyed Azhar Nisar Ahmed was killed in the explosion that took place on Bhikku Chowk, Malegaon. He sought directions to restrain Pragya from contesting elections and to attend day to day hearing of the ongoing trial in the Malegaon bomb blast case of 2008.

Judge VS Padalkar dismissed the said application and noted: "In on-going elections this Court does not have any legal powers to prohibit anyone from contesting elections; it is job of electoral officers to decide. This court can't stop the accused number one (Pragya Singh Thakur) from contesting elections. This application is negated."

Pragya, who is the BJP's candidate from the Bhopal seat in the upcoming general elections, stated in her reply that the said intervention application was not maintainable and should be rejected.

"There is no provision in the Representation of People's Act, 1951 which disqualifies a candidate from contesting election if criminal case is pending against her. The only bar is envisaged under Section 8 of the RP Act. It is very important to appreciate that S.8(4) of the said act says that if a person who is a member of parliament or state legislature is convicted, disqualification shall not take effect, if the appeal or application for revision is filed in respect of conviction and sentenced within 90 days from conviction and the said conviction or sentence is stayed by the Court."

While the National Investigation Agency, which took over the investigation in the case from Maharashtra ATS in 2011, dropped charges against Pragya under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA), the Special NIA Court framed charges against her under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The ATS had stated in its charge sheet that Pragya's motorcycle was used in the blast that killed six and injured 101 persons. This has been refuted by the NIA in its charge sheet for lack of evidence. Instead, it has been stated that although the bike was in her name, it was used by an accused, who is absconding.

Under the UAPA, Pragya has been charged under Section 3 (punishment for causing explosion likely to endanger life or property), Section 4 (punishment for attempt to cause explosion), Section 5 (punishment for making or possessing explosives under suspicious circumstances), Section 6 (punishment of abettors) of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and relevant sections of the Arms Act.

Although Pragya had sought stern action against the applicant and imposition of exemplary costs, the court refused to do so.