The Supreme Court today granted two more months to a special court in Maharashtra to hear and decide the bail applications of the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case including Lt Col S P Purohit and sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.
“Two months more time is given,” a bench of justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said when Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta informed it that the Presiding Officer of the special MCOCA court has sought a two-month extension.
The ASG said that the trial judge has recently taken over and hence more time be granted.
The court also said that by its order dated April 15, it had already given a month time to “dispose of the bail applications expeditiously, preferably within one month from the date of his/her assumption of office as special judge”.
The apex court in its order had said that barring accused Rakesh D Dhawade, who is alleged to be involved in other similar cases in Parbhani and Jalna before the Malegaon blast, the provisions of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) would not be considered while dealing with the bail applications of other accused persons.
It had said that there were “considerable doubts” about the involvement of other accused in Parbhani and Jalna blasts cases and “therefore, they are entitled for their bail applications to be considered on merits”.
The apex court had also asked the special court to commence trial at the earliest and conclude it expeditiously noting that the matter pertains to 2008 and nearly seven years have passed.
While dealing with the issue of expeditious trial of the seven-year-old case, the bench had noted that “no officer has been posted for the special court as on date.”
The accused persons had moved the apex court challenging denial of bail by the Bombay High Court.
The accused persons had also sought direction against the high court order restoring the charges under the stringent anti-organised crime law MCOCA.
The high court had ordered that Pragya and 10 other accused in the Malegaon bomb blast case would face trial under MCOCA and quashed the decision of a special court which had dropped the charges under the special law.
Seven people were killed in the blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra. The probe into the blast brought into focus the activities of some right-wing Hindu groups.
A special court had earlier ruled that Anti Terrorist Squad had wrongly applied MCOCA in the case against Pragya, Purohit and nine others.
The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because of a sizeable Muslim population there. It named Pragya, Purohit and another accused Swami Dayanand Pandey as the key conspirators.
The charge sheet had further alleged it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange RDX, while Pragya owned the motorcycle which was used in the blast.
Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised funds for the terror act, while conspiracy meetings were held at Bhonsala Military School in Nasik.
Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni are the other accused.