On Wednesday, the National Investigation Agency informed the Bombay High Court that Special NIA Court will resume hearing in the 2008 Malegaon Blast Trial on a day-to-day basis in December and the next date of hearing before the trial court is November 26.
An application filed by Nisar Ahmed Haji Sayed Bilal, a victim of the blast who also lost his son to the blast which killed five others and injured more than a hundred people.
Justice SS Shinde and Justice MS Karnik were hearing the application. The victim seeks to intervene in accused Lt. Colonel Prasad Purohit’s petition challenging the sanction given to prosecute him as an accused in the case.
The victim’s right to be heard in the petition victim’s lawyer Senior Advocate BA Desai asserted. Justice Shinde asked. “Have you been allowed to intervene in the trial court?”
“Yes, your lordship, I have been allowed to intervene before the trial court as well as other matters before the Supreme Court related to this case”, Desai submitted.
Adv Neela Gokhale appearing on behalf of Lt Col Prasad Purohit opposed the intervention application and submitted that her client’s petition is regarding the sanction granted to prosecute him and whether he was discharging his duty as an army officer in the case.
Adv Gokhale argued, “He may be of assistance in the trial court but not in the High Court. The learned Additional Solicitor General (For NIA) can ably assist the Court”. Desai submitted that the accused number 1 is Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, (Bhopal MP from BJP),she is not getting prosecuted despite several charges against her. Lt Col Purohit is accused number 9 in the case, Adv Gokhale intervened.
Court told Desai that the compilation of judgments submitted by him has been received and order in his application will be passed on Friday, November 27. The bench then asked the Counsel Advocate Sandesh Patil for National Investigation Agency regarding the stage of the trail.
Patil told the Court, “Out of the 400 witnesses, 140 have been examined. The trial got stalled as the presiding judge was transferred and the new judge has not been able to take charge because of Covid-19. However the trial is set to resume on a day to day basis in December. The next date is November 26.”
The bench said, the plea filed by the by Lt Col Purohit will be heard on December 3 and will pronounce the order on the intervention application on November 27.
Arguing on behalf of Purohit, Former Attorney General of India Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted –
“Gross injustice has been done to my client, the petitioner, being an officer of military intelligence. He was framed in this case and after spending eight years in jail he was released by the Supreme Court. He was infiltrating ‘these groups’ on behalf of the military intelligence branch and no prior sanction to prosecute Lt Col Purohit was taken before the cognizance of offence was taken. After being released on bail he was reinstated in service. Whatever he was doing, he was simply discharging his duty.”