30 Jun 2022 4:15 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court has directed the Special NIA court to submit a status report on the Malegaon 2008 blast trial against BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit and five others. A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and V G Bisht also directed the National Investigation Agency to file an affidavit within two weeks detailing the number...
The Bombay High Court has directed the Special NIA court to submit a status report on the Malegaon 2008 blast trial against BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit and five others.
A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and V G Bisht also directed the National Investigation Agency to file an affidavit within two weeks detailing the number of witnesses examined so far and the number of remaining witnesses they wish to examine.
Meanwhile, one more witness in the 2008 Malegaon blast case refused to identity Purohit, citing the lapse of time. His evidence was regarding some ammunition allegedly purchased by Purohit from him without a licence. However, he did not support parts of the prosecutions case.
So far, out of 252 witnesses examined in the case (nearly hundred just victims), over 20 witnesses have been declared hostile. Most of these hostile witnesses were connected to circumstances around Purohit.
In the HC, Justice Dere's order came on a petition filed by Sameer Kulkarni, an accused in the case. Kulkarni, submitted that the Bombay HC had directed the trial court to make an endeavour to conduct proceedings on a daily basis and complete the proceedings at the earliest. Following Sc's directions there are at least 4-5 authoritative orders of the HC.
Kulkarni added that this was the fourth special judge conducting the trial. He alleged that certain accused, were deliberately delaying the trial. Moreover, NIA was also not easily getting witnesses for deposition. Several of the witnesses were extremely irrelevant, he has claimed.
Kulkarni further submitted that NIA was making different statements regarding the number of witnesses they intended to examine before the special court and before the High court. Moreover, relevant witnesses remained to be examined even after 13 years of the blast.
However, counsel for NIA Sandesh Patil on Wednesday said 252 witnesses have been examined and the agency intends to examine another 120 witnesses.
The bench then went through the older orders passed in the case, and also perused some reports submitted by the special court in the past relating to the case. It then asked the NIA to "file an affidavit detailing the status of the case, how many witnesses remained to be examined, etc".
It also directed the Special Court to submit a status report in a sealed envelope.
Six persons were killed and around 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a golden LML Freedom motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.
While the case was initially investigated by the ATS, the NIA took over investigations and considerably watered down the charges against the accused.
Thakur and Purohit have been charged with murder, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony on him, relevant sections under The Arms Act, The Indian Explosive Substance Act, and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Advocate Shahid Nadeem Ansari, representing a victim in the blast, wrote to the NIA for a former Army Officer to be impleaded as an accused in the case following his deposition in the court. The man was Purohit's superior. He has sought for NIA to file an application under section 319 of the CrPC for the army person to be impleaded as an accused in the case.