Monday, 30th October 2017

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Court trying Malegaon blast case insists on Pragya's presence

Last month, the court had directed all the 7 accused, including Thakur to be present in the courtroom at least once a week

  • Published 4.06.19, 4:03 AM
  • Updated 4.06.19, 4:03 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Newly-elected BJP MP from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur after her win in the Lok Sabha elections at party's state headquarters in Bhopal, Friday, May 24, 2019. (PTI)

A special court trying the Malegaon blast case rejected on Monday a plea by Pragya Singh Thakur, a newly elected BJP parliamentarian, for exemption from appearance between June 3 and June 7.

The MP representing Bhopal, an accused in the case, had cited completion of Parliament procedures on enrolment and identity card to seek the exemption from court attendance.

The court, however, directed the blast accused to remain present during the hearing this week.

“Grounds shown in the exemption application like to complete process of elections, enrolment and other factors cannot be accepted at all as time and again, the accused person (Thakur) has undertaken to remain present before this court but fails to do so,” the court said.

The court said on earlier occasion, the exemption was granted. “However, now material witnesses are being called by the prosecution to adduce their evidence to prove their case against the accused persons. Hence, the presence of accused persons is certainly necessary,” the court said.

The court highlighted that the apex court has, in several orders in the past, emphasised the need for lower courts to decide matters where political leaders are involved expeditiously.

“In view of these, now that the accused applicant is a political leader and since the matter has been already expedited by the Supreme Court, this court feels that she should remain present in court at least once a week,” the court said.

Last month, the court had directed all the seven accused, including Thakur and Lt Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit, to be present in the courtroom at least once a week.

Expressing its displeasure over the frequent absence of the accused during the ongoing trial, the court had said that exemption pleas without convincing reasons would be rejected.

At present, the court is recording the testimony of the witnesses.

Besides Thakur and Purohit, Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni are the other accused in the case. They are all out on bail.

Six persons had died and 101 were injured in the blast in Nashik’s Malegaon on September 29, 2008.

In October last year, the court had framed charges against all the seven accused for terror activities, criminal conspiracy and murder. The accused face trial under sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Malegaon blast case was first probed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad under Hemant Karkare who was killed during the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008.

In the first chargesheet in the case in 2009 Maharashtra ATS had alleged that Malegaon was selected for the blasts because of its sizeable Muslim population and said Thakur and Purohit were the key conspirators.

The initial probe had hinted that Purohit had arranged for explosives while Thakur owned the motorcycle that was used in the blast.

But the National Investigation Agency’s chargesheet in May 2016 said there was no evidence that the motorcycle belonged to Pragya.

A month later, the court had said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the charges against Pragya were “prima facie true”.

All the accused have pleaded not guilty.