Malegaon blast case: Special NIA court likely to frame charges against Sadhvi Pragya, Prasad Purohit on 7 February

Mumbai: A special NIA court is likely to frame charges against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit and six other accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case on 7 February.

The matter was listed on Monday. As the judge was unavailable, the case was adjourned to 7 February.

The court had on 27 December rejected the pleas of the accused for discharge from the case. However, it dropped some sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against the accused, provisions of which attract punishment up to life in prison.

The court had also dismissed the NIA's contention that there was no evidence against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, saying it was difficult to accept the claim given that her motorcycle was used in the blast.

 Malegaon blast case: Special NIA court likely to frame charges against Sadhvi Pragya, Prasad Purohit on 7 February

File image of the site of the Malegaon blasts. Reuters

The accused will now face trial under sections 16 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (conspiring for and committing/organising a terror act) and under the Indian Penal Code for criminal conspiracy, murder, attempt to murder and causing hurt besides charges under the Explosive substances Act and Arms Act.

The charges are punishable by varying prison terms up to life, and death for murder.

The NIA, while filing a chargesheet in the case in 2017, gave a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and three others — Shyam Sahu, Praveen Takalki, Shivnarayan Kalsangra — saying it found no evidence against them and they should be discharged from the case.

The court absolved only Sahu, Kalsangra and Takalki from all the charges, leaving Thakur to face trial.

Two others, Jagdish Mhatre and Rakesh Dhawde, will face trial only under the Arms Act "before concerned courts", the NIA court had said.

The NIA had claimed in its chargesheet that there was no evidence of Thakur ever being part of conspiracy meetings, and though the motorcycle used in the blast once belonged to her, she had sold it much before the blast and had no knowledge of the conspiracy.

Six persons were killed when an improvised explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off at Malegaon, a town with sizable Muslim population in north Maharashtra's Nashik district, on 29 September, 2008, while 101 people were injured.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra police, which probed the case 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.

According to the ATS, it was Ramchandra Kalsangra who planted the bomb, and who is still absconding.

Thakur gave her motorbike to Kalsangra to plant the bomb, the ATS had said.

Thakur filed a discharge plea after the Bombay High Court granted her bail in April. The NIA didn't oppose her bail application. Purohit is also out on bail.

The court also had dropped the UAPA sections 17, 20 and 23 against all accused. These sections relate to raising funds for a terrorist organisation, being part of a terrorist organisation and aiding someone who is part of a terrorist organisation.

Updated Date: Jan 16, 2018 06:56:44 IST