Malegaon Blast: Purohit Gets Bail After 9 Years in Jail
Supreme Court set aside the order of the Bombay HC which had denied bail to Lt Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit.
Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, the accused in the Malegaon blast, was taken to a special NIA court on 22 August for a hearing on his discharge application, a day after the Supreme Court granted him bail.
Stepping outside the Taloja jail in Mumbai, Purohit was welcomed with flowers as he told the media that he was "very happy" with the Supreme Court ruling. On 21 August, a bench of Justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre said they were setting aside the Bombay High Court order which denied bail to Purohit.
The apex court said it has imposed certain conditions on Purohit while granting bail. Reacting to the judgement, Purohit’s lawyer Harish Salve said:
I am very satisfied. After 9 years, he (Purohit) will be with his family.
On 17 August, the Supreme Court reserved its order on Purohit’s bail plea hearing. Arguing for Purohit, Harish Salve urged the Supreme Court bench to grant interim bail “for interest of justice”. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had, however, opposed Purohit’s bail plea, stating that there were enough evidence against him.
Col Purohit said he had participated in the Abhinav Bharat meetings, a right-wing extremist organisation, but as an army mole. He argued that the documents provided by the Commission of Inquiry only proved that he was indeed an army informer.
Purohit had told the apex court on 17 August that he had been caught in the “political crossfire” and had been languishing in jail for nine years.
Arguing for Purohit, Salve had alleged that his client was “falsely implicated” in the blast case by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS).
The Supreme Court had said the issue of granting bail to Purohit and cancellation of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s bail, who are both accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, needed detailed consideration.
Commenting on the Supreme Court's verdict on Monday, former ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi told ANI:
Will comment after the detailed order. But I stand by the initial investigation which we had done.
Purohit had moved the apex court, challenging the Bombay High Court's order dismissing his bail plea, while Nisar Ahmed Haji Sayed Bilal, father of one of the blast victims, challenged the Bombay High Court order granting bail to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.
The petitioner alleged that Thakur was a "powerful person" and could influence the witnesses in the case. He had sought a stay on the High Court's 25 April order granting her bail, saying there was "no prima facie evidence against her".
The apex court had, on 28 July, sought the Maharashtra government's reply on the plea seeking cancellation of Thakur's bail.
The NIA had filed its reply in the case of Purohit, saying there was ample evidence against him, but no evidence against Thakur. The apex court had on 5 May also sought a response from the NIA and the Maharashtra government on the plea of Purohit seeking bail.
Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on 29 September 2008 at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra.
The 4,000-page chargesheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because of a sizeable Muslim population there. It had named Thakur, Purohit and co-accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey, as the key conspirators.
The chargesheet also alleged that it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange explosive RDX, while Thakur owned the motorcycle which was used in the blast.
Army to Review Purohit's Suspension After Examining SC Order
The Army will review Col Purohit’s suspension from service after examining the court order, army sources said on Monday.
They said Purohit will be placed under same restrictions as an officer in “open arrest” and his movement will be confined to his residential accommodation and camp of his unit.
Sources said the Army headquarters will study the Supreme Court’s order granting him bail and accordingly take a call will be taken on whether to revoke his suspension or not.
"He will have to report back to his unit after getting out of jail. He can be attached to any other unit after that," said a source.
BJP Protecting Accused Connected to RSS: Congress
The Congress accused the BJP government of “protecting” all the accused “connected to the RSS”.
The opposition party also raised questions over National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief Sharad Kumar getting two extensions and hoped that justice would be done in the Malegaon serial blasts case “without fear or favour”.
Why is that the Modi government cannot find any competent police officer in India to head the NIA that they have to give two extensions to its current chief? We sincerely hope that the law will take its own course and justice will be done, free from fear or favour, in this case.
Purohit's Bail is Judicial Process: Rijiju
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju dismissed the Congress' accusations, saying whoever deserved justice would get it.
What is the conspiracy about it? The Congress has the habit of raising this issue. Why should we intervene? This is a process (that was) started a long time back and it’s a process of the judiciary. Why should we intervene? Whosoever deserves justice will get it. My saying anything won’t change it.Kiren Rijuju, MoS Home Ministry
Rijiju added that he would not like to comment on statements made by Digvijaya Singh on the issue.
Govt Going Soft on Terror Cases: Owaisi
After the Supreme Court granted bail to Purohit, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi accused the Modi government of "going soft" on terror cases.
Owaisi said a terror accused like Purohit should not be "glorified as is being attempted by some people".
There has been a pattern in such cases (involving alleged Hindutva terrorists) ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has come to power. The government is not appealing against the bails and acquittals. Is it going soft in such cases?Owaisi on India Today TV
"Also, public prosecutor Rohini Saliyan has alleged that she was being pressurised by the NIA officers to dilute the case," he said.
(With inputs from PTI , ANI and IANS. This story has been updated.)
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