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Vishad Srivastava, B.A. LL.B (H)
Sadhvi Pragya Thakur one of the main accused in the Malegaon Blast Case of 2006 who got bail on 25 April 2017 by Bombay High Court has again been in the headlines as ‘SLP’ has been filed in Supreme Court to over ride the bail given by High Court.
Malegaon Blast Case was the case of serial blast which took on 8 September 2006 in Malegaon. Malegaon falls in the Nashik district of Maharashtra. The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad(ATS) initially blamed the bombings on the Student Islamic Movement of India but the chargesheet which was filed by ATS put the blame on Hindu Extremist Group Abhinav Bharat. Abhinav Bharat is a right wing Hindu organization which is founded by Retired Major Ramesh Upadhaya and Lt. Col. Prasad Srikant Purohit who is also one of the accused in this blast case. Explosions resulted in 40 deaths and 125 injuries which took place adjacent to a mosque where holy Friday prayers were going on and then explosions took place which took away life of many people mostly from Muslim community. After this state ATS had chargesheeted 12 alleged Hindu extremist including Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya in 2009. Moreover stringet provisions of Maharashtra Control of organized Crime Act,1999 (MCOCA) were also made against them. On 25 April 2017 Bombay High Court given the bail to Pragya Thakur but rejected the bail of Lt.Col. Purohit. Pragya bail was given on 5 Lakh surety. In 2011 National Investigation Agency had dropped all the charges against them since then they sought for bail. Appearing from the victim side senior counsel submitted that since NIA has filed a supplementary chargesheet and allegations of Sadhvi providing RDX for the blast and there is data extracted from laptops and pen drives of the witnesses, but court gave the bail to Prachi but not to Purohit.
Now that bail has been challenged in Supreme Court on July 21 by Nisar Ahmed Haji Sayed Bilal a resident of Malegaon. He has challenged this through Special Leave Petition. The SLP mainly challenges the National Investigation Agency (NIA) supplementary chargesheet in which agency gave clean chit to her and stated that charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crimes Act (MCOCA) should not be levied against her. Petition further stated that Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad had carried out a investigation and record statement of witnesses in speedy and correct manner after this NIA had interrogate them after seven years which only deviates the witneeses from their statement and by taking advantage of this loophole Sadhvi got bail. Investigation after such a long period does not test the clarity and accuracy of statement but it only gives curtain to the accused to escape from law. Further, the petitioner has submitted that by taking into account the retracted statements of the witnesses (after a prolonged period), the NIA is casting aspersions on the judicial officers who meticulously recorded them after having duly convinced themselves of the voluntariness of the same. The SLP contends that the High Court erred in taking at face value the contents of the Supplementary Charge Sheet without independently evaluating the material on record. Petiotion also pointed out that the mere fact that a confession has been retracted doesn’t take away its evidentiary value, and the later contradictions in the testimony pertaining to the role of the Sadhvi in attending meetings prior-to and post the attacks show that the co-accused witness was under the tutelage of NIA officers who were bent upon seeing to it that the Sadhvi got the court’s leniency. It urges the apex court due to lack of proper testimony of witness and investigation after such a long time had made the high court to overlook the key conspirator and neglect the main evidence which were brought up in the court.
Sadhvi Pragya Thakur is the Hindu preacher and a good orator who worked for Hinduism and upliftment of girls. She has done M.A. in History and there she has joined ABVP. After joining ABVP sshe become popular leader in the ABVP as because of her oratory skill and profound knowledge on Gita. She had formed several Self Help Group which is working for the upliftment of girls education. A fter her successful years in the ABVP seeing her popularity and ability she had been given the command of Durga wing of Vishva Hindu Parishad.
Sadhvi involvement in this case as because of the allegation of providing RDX for the blast and she had provide her bike to the terrorist to plant the bomb but the latter allegation has been proved wrong by NIA as her bike was being theft, the former allegation had moved her to the court trial. Moreover her character of firebrand leader of VHP has added more flavours in this case of being a key conspirator. There is news that Sadhvi was very ill treated in the jail to agree for the charges against her. She was forcibly shown pornography with other men. She was beaten up for ontinious 4 hours and was not provided food for 24 hours. This brutal treatment also questioned on the polce officers who were the duty incharge. Moreover there is always a question on the government of India as their ability to turn the cases for their supporter which is clearly laid in this case as case was charged by U.P.A. and bailed had come in the regime of N.D.A. so this thing raises the question not only to Government but the independency of Judiciary and Police department.