New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) today granted bail to Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on Sept.29, 2008, in Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in the Nasik district of Northern Maharashtra.
The National Investigating Agency (NIA) had opposed his bail during the last hearing and argued that there was evidence against Lt. Col. Purohit.
Lt. Col. Purohit had moved the SC challenging the Bombay High Court’s order dismissing his bail plea. He has spent nine years behind bars after being arrested in 2008.
He told the Supreme Court that he was acting as Army mole and was not involved in terrorist activity.
On Aug. 17, the Apex Court had reserved its verdict on Lt. Col. Purohit’s plea seeking interim bail. A bench of Justices R. K. Agrawal and A. M. Sapre passed the order on the plea, having reserved its order.
During a hearing last week, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Lt. Col. Purohit, said he has been in jail for the past nine years but charges have still not been framed against him.
He added that a charge against Purohit, under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), has already been dropped and therefore he is entitled to getting interim bail.
A special MCOCA court had earlier ruled that the Anti-Terrorism Squad had wrongly applied this law against Purohit and 10 others.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the NIA, said there was evidence against Purohit that would help in framing a charge.
With regard to a plea seeking the cancellation of bail of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a co-accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, the Court posted the matter for hearing on Oct. 10.
Nisar Ahmed Haji Sayed Bilal, father of one of the blast victims, had challenged the Bombay HC order granting bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur alleging that she was a “powerful person” and could influence the witnesses in the case.
He has sought a stay on the HC’s April 25 order granting her bail, saying there was “no prima facie evidence against her.”
The SC had on July 28 sought Maharashtra government’s reply on the plea seeking cancellation of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s bail.
The top court had on May 5 sought a response from the NIA and the Maharashtra government on the plea of Purohit seeking bail.
The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because of a sizeable Muslim population there. It had named Pragya Thakur, Purohit and co-accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey as the key conspirators.
It further alleged that it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange the RDX, while Thakur owned the motorcycle which was used in the blast. Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised funds for the terror act, while conspiracy meetings were held at the Bhonsala Military School in Nasik, it had said.
Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni were the other accused.