Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted interim protection from arrest to two policemen, accused of involvement in the disappearance of a witness in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, and asked them to approach a court in Madhya Pradesh which issued non-bailable warrants against them.
Inspector Ramesh More and retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Rajendre Ghule had filed anticipatory bail applications before the high court here after a magistrate's court in Indore issued NBWs against them on 30 May this year.
More and Ghule were accused by the CBI for their alleged involvement in the disappearance of Indore resident, Dilip Patidar, who was a witness in the Malegaon 2008 blasts case.
Justice Revati Mohite Dere granted the duo interim protection from arrest for three weeks. During the period, they will have to approach the court in Indore and seek cancellation of the NBWs issued against them.
Advocate Niranjan Mundargi, appearing for More and Ghule, informed the court that CBI had in 2014 filed closure report in the case citing absence of requisite sanction to prosecute the duo. However, the Indore court refused to accept CBI's contention and issued warrants.
CBI counsel Hiten Venegaonkar said the agency was opposing the bail pleas. The high court, however, questioned why CBI was now opposing the bail pleas when it has already filed closure report in the case.
"Why is CBI opposing now after filing closure report? The applicants (More and Ghule) are granted interim protection from arrest for three weeks by when they will have to approach the court in Indore and seek cancellation of the warrants issued against them," Justice Dere said.
Patidar was picked up by a Maharashtra ATS team from Indore on 10 November, 2008, two months after two bombs went off in Malegaon, killing seven people. He was brought to the Kalachowkie police station, where More and Ghule, both with the ATS then, began interrogating him.
Patidar owned a property where one of the key Malegaon blasts accused, Ramji Kalsangra, had spent some time. ATS believed Patidar's testimony would strengthen the case against Kalsangra, who is absconding.
17 November, 2008, was the last time Patidar's family heard from him. Over the phone, he told his wife that there was a threat to his life and that he was being tortured in police custody.
More and Ghule have maintained that they released Patidar from Kalachowkie police's custody on 21 November, so that he could return with some crucial documents, but he never did.
The family then approached the Madhya Pradesh High Court which directed the police to probe. The police informed the court that Patidar had gone into hiding following which the high court transferred the probe to CBI.
In its report to the Madhya Pradesh HC, CBI accused More and Ghule of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, wrongful confinement and fabiraction and destruction of evidence.
Seven people were killed in twin blasts in north Maharashtra's Malegaon town on 29 September, 2008.