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Malegaon blast case: BJP MP Pragya Thakur fails to appear in court

Six people were killed and over 100 others injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon in 2008.

Published: 03rd December 2020 01:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2020 01:40 PM   |  A+A-

BJP MP Pragya Thakur

BJP MP Pragya Thakur (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

MUMBAI: A special NIA court here on Thursday said the trial in 2008 Malegaon blast case will resume from Friday and directed all the seven accused to remain present before it on December 19.

Special NIA court judge P R Sitre had earlier directed all the accused in the case, including BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, to remain present in the court on Thursday.

However, Thakur and three others did not appear in the court.

Only three of the accused turned up before the judge.

The lawyers of the remaining accused told the court that their clients were absent due to the COVID-19 situation.

The court then directed all the accused to be present before it on December 19.

It said the trial in the case, which is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), will resume from Friday.

Six people were killed and over 100 others injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from Mumbai in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court on Thursday clarified that it has not stayed the trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, and said the trial must go on.

A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik was hearing a plea filed by Lt Col Prasad Purohit, seeking that charges against him be quashed.

Purohit's lawyer sought adjournment on the ground that senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi was not available on Thursday.

The court then adjourned the matter till December 14.

The bench sought to know at what stage is the trial before the special NIA court.

NIA's advocate Sandesh Patil told the HC that the trial will commence on a day-to-day basis from Thursday and the accused persons and some witnesses have been summoned.

"We have never said that the trial is stayed. The trial must continue," Justice Shinde said.

The court noted that there are 400 prosecution witnesses, of whom only 140 have been examined so far.

Purohit, in his plea filed in September this year, sought that charges against him be quashed, since the NIA had failed to get a prior sanction under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Section 197.

Section 197 of the CrPC lays down the procedure for prosecution of public servants and mandates that a prior sanction be sought from the government.

Purohit said in the absence of prior sanction, the trial court couldn't have taken cognisance of the charges.

As per the plea, Purohit was working for the Indian Army's military intelligence unit and had attended the alleged conspiracy meetings before the blast as part of "discharging his duties".

The NIA had opposed the plea, saying Purohit had attended the meetings in his personal capacity and not as part of discharging his duties.

Purohit, who was arrested in 2009, was reinstated in the Army in 2017 after he was granted bail by the Supreme Court.

The accused in the case have been charged under Sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

They have also been charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups), and relevant provisions of the Explosive Substances Act.



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