NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail to Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit in the 2008 Malegaon serial blast case.
A bench of Justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre said they are setting aside the Bombay High Court order by which the bail was denied.
The apex court said it has imposed certain conditions on Purohit while granting bail.
“Liberty of a citizen is undoubtedly important but this is to balance with the security of the community. A balance is required between personal liberty of the accused and the investigational rights of the agency. It must result in minimum interference with personal liberty of the accused and the right of the agency to investigate the case,” the two-member bench said while granting bail.
The Supreme Court on Monday said there were “contradictions” in the charge sheet filed by the ATS and NIA. It stated that the versions have to be tested during the trial and that it cannot pick one version over the other. The apex court added that it cannot deny bail to Purohit merely because sentiments of the community were against him.
Appearing for Purohit, lawyer Harish Salve told the court he did not want to be discharged from the case but in the interest of justice, wanted interim bail.
Caught in political crossfire, says Salve
Appearing for Purohit, senior lawyer Harish Salve told the court he did not want to be discharged from the case but in the interest of justice, wanted interim bail. Salve told the bench that Purohit was allegedly caught in the political crossfire and had been falsely implicated in the case
On August 17, Purohit had told the apex court that he has been caught in the "political crossfire" and languishing in jail for nine years.
Purohit had moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court's order dismissing his bail plea.
Purohit is the first Army officer in the country to be arrested on charges of terrorism. Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra.
The probe into the blast, started by the Maharashtra ATS and later transferred to the NIA, chargesheeted 14 people and named Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Swami Dayanand Pandey as key conspirators. So far, seven of those 14 have been granted bail, including Sadhvi Pragya in April this year.
A special MCOCA court had earlier ruled that the ATS had wrongly applied this law against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Purohit and nine others.
The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because of a sizeable Muslim population there.