2008 Malegaon blast: NIA gives clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya, drops MCOCA charges against others too
The NIA chargesheet says charges under MCOCA have been given up against all the other 10 accused including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit.
Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday filed a chargesheet before a Special Court here in the September 2008 Malegaon blasts case.
Also, charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act or MCOCA law have been given up against all the other 10 accused including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit.
In a complete U-turn, the NIA said that during investigation, "sufficient evidences have not been found against" Pragya Singh Thakur and five others.
The NIA added that it has submitted in the chargesheet "that the prosecution against them is not maintainable".
There have been a lot of twists and turns in the probe into the Malegaon blast.
The case was investigated initially by Joint Commissioner of Mumbai's ATS Hemant Karkare who was killed during the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Before the NIA took over the case in 2011, ATS had booked 16 people but filed chargesheets on January 20, 2009 and April 21, 2011 against 14 accused in a Mumbai court.
Purohit and Pragya had moved several applications before the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court challenging the chargesheet and applicability of stringent MCOCA in the case.
Shiv Narayan Kalsangra, Shyam Bhavarlal Sahu, Praveen Takkalki, Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh Choudhury are the other five accused against whom charges have been dropped besides Sadhvi.
The agency also said during investigation that it has been established that no offence is attracted in this case under the MCOCA, in which any statement given before a SP-level officer is admissible as an evidence.
"In furtherance of same, the confessional statements recorded under provisions of MCOC Act by ATS Mumbai have not been relied up on by the NIA in submitting the present Final report," the agency said in its chargesheet.
Lt Col Purohit and nine others will now be tried for charges including murder and conspiracy under the provisions of anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, IPC, Arms Act and Explosives Substance Act.
The September 29, 2008 Malegaon blasts, in which seven were killed and another 80 were injured, was the first major case in which the involvement of right-wing Hindu extremists came to the fore.
(With Agency inputs)