MUMBAI: The Bombay High court on Tuesday granted bail to prime accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, while rejecting the bail plea of another prime accused in the case, Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit.
“Appeal filed by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur is allowed. The applicant is directed to be released on bail on a surety of Rs 5 lakh. The appeal filed by Prasad Purohit stands dismissed,” said a division Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi.
“We have said in our order that prima facie there is no case made against Sadhvi,” Justice More said while refusing to stay Tuesday’s order.
The court ordered Sadhvi to surrender her passport to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), not to tamper with the evidence and to report to the NIA court as and when required.
Last week, the NIA had told the Supreme Court that there was no need to keep the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case in judicial custody as a charge sheet has been filed.
Sadhvi was granted bail in the September 2008 bomb blast that had killed six people and injured over 100, almost nine years after she was arrested.
The Bench had concluded a lengthy hearing on the appeals for bail in February and had reserved appeals for pronouncement of judgment.
Both Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Prasad Purohit had filed separate appeals. The hearing in Purohit’s plea concluded on February 17 and Sadhvi’s on February 20.
An earlier attempt by Sadhvi Pragya to get bail was rejected by the lower court in June 2016. The judge had said, “There are reasonable grounds to believe accusations against Sadhvi Pragya are prima facie true.”
On May 13, 2016, NIA filed its supplementary charge sheet that dropped charges under the stringent law of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Sadhvi Pragya and five others.
Sadhvi Pragya was charged by the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) in 2009 stating that it was her motorcycle that was used to plant the bomb that that killed six people and injured 101.
The NIA had observed that the evidence against her was the weakest and not substantial. In its supplementary chargesheet, the agency also said that the motorcycle, which was registered in her name, was used by an absconding accused.
An important charge against Prasad Purohit is that he used RDX retained from a seizure for the 2008 Malegaon blast despite being an intelligence officer. Hence, his appeal was based on Army records and documents to argue that the main charge against him, of him retaining RDX, was bogus.
Military records show that Purohit could not have procured any RDX because of elaborate operations and procedures. Commendations Purohit had received from superior officers for his good work throughout his career were also cited.
However, while rejecting Purohit’s bail plea, the NIA court had observed that all military documents and other evidence in his support would be considered during the trial and not at the pre-trial stage. The case is at a stage where charges are yet to be framed to enable the trial to begin.