MP Pragya Thakur gets exemption from appearance in court

Mumbai: Tuesday granted exemption from regular appearance to BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur in the Malegaon blast case of 2008.

Thakur, who is one of the seven accused in the case being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), appeared before the court on Monday.

On Tuesday, Special Judge P R Sitre granted exemption to Thakur after her lawyer J P Mishra filed a written application, citing the MP’s difficulty in travelling here regularly due to health and security concerns.

“Thakur has multiple illnesses and is undergoing treatment at AIIMS. Even while she was in Mumbai (yesterday), she had undergone some tests at Kokilaben Hospital where doctors told her she was having multiple complications and needed to be treated by a team of doctors,” the lawyer said in the application.

Mishra further said that Thakur, the BJP MP from Bhopal, has “threat to her life” and hence, Madhya Pradesh Police have providedsix armed personnel for her security.

Besides them, two personal aides accompany her wherever she goes. It is very difficult for her to travel with all these security personnel, he added.

The other reasons cited by Thakur include that she, being the member of Parliament, has responsibility towards the people of her constituency.

Special public prosecutor Avinash Rasal said judge Sitre considered Thakur’s plea and exempted her from regular appearance, and asked her to remain present in the court as and when required.

Earlier, after failing to remain present in the court multiple times, Thakur appeared before the judge on Monday.

On December 19, 2020, judge Sitre had given “last chance” to Thakur to appear before the court.

He had expressed displeasure over her failure to appear before the court twice last month.

Thakur earlier appeared in the court in June 2019 after it ordered the seven accused to remain present once a week. However, she had sought exemption from appearance on various occasions since then.

The other six accused in the case are Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Sameer Kulkarni, Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Ajay Rahirkar and Sudhakar Dwivedi.

The trial in the case came to a halt in March last year following the lockdown imposed across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, the special NIA court resumed the trial.

So far, around 140 witnesses out of the total 400 have been examined.

On September 29, 2008, six people were killed and over 100 others injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went-off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from Mumbai in north Maharashtra.

The court framed terror charges against Purohit, Thakur and five other accused in October 2018.

The accused in the case have been charged under Sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

They have also been charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups), and relevant provisions of the Explosive Substances Act.