Bombay-HC admits Malegaon blast accused Purohit's plea challenging discharge rejection
The Bombay HC today admitted a plea filed by Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, challenging previous judgments of the HC and a special trial court that had rejected his discharge from the case. On December 18, 2017, the HC had refused to quash a government sanction that permitted Purohit's prosecution in the blast case. Here's more
Six persons were killed and over a 100 were injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon in Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008. Purohit and his co-accused are still facing charges under the UAPA and IPC provisions.
Earlier on December 27, 2017, a special National Investigation Agency court had dismissed his plea to discharge him from the case. Purohit then approached the Supreme Court, and based on the apex court's directions, approached the HC again earlier this year arguing that the sanction granted by the government to prosecute him in the case, was wrong in law.
A prior sanction required for Purohit's prosecution since he was a serving Army officer at the time, was issued on January 17, 2009, by Additional Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra Home Department. Purohit's lawyer Shrikant Shivde, however, has maintained that under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the state law and judiciary department has to constitute an appropriate authority and seek its report first.
Shivde argued that the sanction was given in Jan'09 but the authority was appointed only in Oct'10. Thus, the sanction was not valid under the UAPA provisions and hence, courts couldn't have taken cognizance of the charges against him. In the hearing conducted today, a bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai, said arguments over sanction will be heard from July 16, 2018.
Last year in December, the NIA, which is also the prosecution in the case, had dismissed pleas filed by Purohit and other accused, seeking that they be discharged from the case. NIA counsel, advocate Sandesh Patil, had argued that as per procedure, Purohit must file a fresh plea before the special court seeking discharge on the point of sanction.
The HC bench suggested that the NIA refrain from proceeding with the trial until the issue of sanction vide Purohit's plea was decided by the HC. Patil, however, told the bench today that while the special NIA court had scheduled the framing of charges in the case for today, it was unlikely that the same would happen since the NIA court wasn't "ready yet".
The NIA court after dismissing Purohit's plea, had, however, given them partial relief by dropping all charges against them under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA)