Charges Against Seven in Malegaon Blast Caseby Opinion Express October 31, 2018 0 comments
More than a decade after a powerful explosion claimed six lives and left 101 others seriously wounded in Malegaon, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has framed charges against Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five other accused.
Judge Vinod Padalkar, who presides over the NIA framed the charges against Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and five others and other accused persons in the September 29, 2008 Malegaon blasts case.
With the framing of charges against the seven accused, the decks have now been cleared for the start of the Malegaon blasts case. The trial will begin on November 2.
The seven key accused, including Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya, will now be tried under sections 16 (committing a terror Act) and 18 (criminal conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and sections 120(b) (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 326 (intentionally causing harm to others) of the IPC. They were framed charges under the Explosives Substances Act.
If convicted under these sections, the maximum punishment can be life imprisonment or death.
Apart from Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya, the other accused who will now face the trial are: Sudhakar Dwivedi, Major (retd.) Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Ajay Rahirkar.
As the Judge read out the charges to the accused individually, all the accused denied the charges against them.
Reading out the charges against the accused, the Judge said: “The Abhinav Bharat (organisation) was formed with a common objective to spread terrorism and (for this purpose) a bomb with RDX was planted in a motorcycle in Malegaon that killed six persons and injured 101 others,” the judge said.
The Judge said the accused came together, hatched a conspiracy and committed a terrorist act by way of the bomb blast.
Earlier this month, the NIA court had rejected the pleas of the accused challenging the invoking of UAPA against them. However, Lt Col Purohit, a former military intelligence official, has challenged the special court’s verdict in the Bombay High Court. The matter will come up for hearing on November 21.
On Monday, a HC division bench comprising justice SS Shinde and justice AS Gadkari declined to provide any relief to Lt Col Purohit.
It may be recalled that on December 27, 2017, a Special NIA court had dropped charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and five other key accused in the much-discussed case.
However, Additional Sessions Judge SD Tekale had rejected the applications of key accused Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya, Sameer Kulkarni, Ramesh Upadhyay and Sudhakar Dwivedi for discharge from the case.
Sadhvi Pragya and Lt Col Purohit were among the 11 persons charge-sheeted by the ATS on January 20, 2009, in connection with 2008 Malegaon blasts.
Improvised explosive kept under the seat of a LML Freedom motor-bicycle had exploded between Bhikkhu Chowk and Anjuman Chowk, near Noorani Masjid, at Malegaon in north Maharashtra, on the night of September 29, 2008, leaving six persons dead and injuring 101 others.
Writer: TN Raghunatha
Courtesy: The Pioneer