The Bombay High Court will hear a plea of Prasad Shrikant Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast that killed six and injured over 100 hundred, on Wednesday, that he was being prosecuted for terror charges under the stringent UAPA without any valid sanction.
The Supreme Court had asked the Bombay High Court to deal with the plea on Monday after Purohit moved a fresh leave petition in the Supreme court after a trial court framed charges against Purohit in the case last month.
The Supreme Court had, on 20 April this year, granted Purohit the liberty to raise the issue of grant of sanction to prosecute him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) before the trial court at the time of framing of charges.
However, the trial court had rejected Purohit's plea on sanction and had framed charges against him. Purohit had said in the pleaa that he was being prosecuted under penal laws including the UAPA without any sanction from the authorities.
The plea also alleged that the charges have been framed against Purohit and others by the special court which had commenced the trial without dealing with his plea on sanction.
The apex court, while granting bail to Purohit on 21 August, 2017, had also said the issue of grant of prosecution sanction could be raised at the time of framing of charges.
Earlier, a special court had, on 30 October, framed terror charges against Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five other accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, setting the stage for their trial which commenced on 2 November.
It had said that the organisation named Abhinav Bharat was formed by the accused with the common object to "spread terrorism" and had framed charges of criminal conspiracy and murder, among other offences.
Six people were killed and over 100 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 29 September, 2008.
The special court had framed charges against all the seven accused under relevant sections of the stringent UAPA and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Apart from Purohit and Sadhvi, the other accused are - Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni.
The accused were charged under sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA.
Under the IPC, they were charged under sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups).
If convicted under these sections, the maximum punishment can be life imprisonment or death.
The accused were also charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra police, which probed the case, had initially charged Thakur, Purohit, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre, Rakesh Dhawade, Ajay Rahirkar, Samir Kulkarni, Shyam Sahu, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Pravin Mutalik and Ramchandra Kalsangra.
Thakur and Purohit were arrested the same year along with nine others for the blast conspiracy.
On August 21, last year, the apex court had granted bail to Purohit, who had been languishing in jail for almost nine years for his alleged role in the case, observing there were contradictions in the charge sheets filed by different investigating agencies.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 21, 2018 07:28:19 IST