New Delhi: The Supreme Court today agreed
to take up on Monday an appeal filed by Sadhvi Pragya Singh
Thakur, key accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts case,
challenging her prosecution under the Maharashtra Control of
Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
A Bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and T S Thakur
said it would hear the matter along with the similar appeal
filed earlier by co-accused Lieutenant Colonel SP Purohit.
Both the accused have challenged the Bombay High
Court`s direction allowing the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist
Squad(ATS) to invoke the provisions of MCOCA against them. The
High Court had passed the direction after reversing a
judgement of the Designated MCOCA Court which had on July 31,
2009 quashed the charges against the duo and nine others.
The accused have taken the plea that the High Court
had erred in upholding the MCOCA provision against them and
submitted that to invoke the Act, there should be previous
history of organised criminal activities against them.
It was submitted that they had no prior criminal
antecedents and even in the present bomb blast case they were
Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September
29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in
Nasik district Maharashtra. The probe into the blast had
brought into focus some right-wing Hindu groups.
A special MCOCA court had on July 31, 2009 held that
the ATS 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 Muslims form the
majority of its population. It named Thakur, Lieutenant
Colonel SP Purohit and another accused Swami Dayanand Pandey
as the key conspirators.
The charge sheet had further alleged that it was
Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange for the RDX while
Pragya owned the motorcycle 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 six accused.
Purohit is the first serving Indian army officer
accused of playing a major role in planning and executing a
ATS had also arrested retired Army officer Major
Ramesh Upadhyay, who along with Thakur, was said to be a
member of right wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat.
Purohit had come in contact with Upadhyay when he was
posted at Nashik in the Army`s liaison unit.