New Delhi: The Supreme Court today issued a
notice to Maharashtra government on Malegaon blast accused Lt
Col Prasad Srikant Purohit`s petition seeking interim bail and
challenging his prosecution under stringent Maharashtra
Control of Organised Crime Act(MCOCA).
A Bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and T S Thakur
granted the state four weeks to file its response on Purohit`s
petition filed through counsel Shivaji M Jadhav.
Purohit, in his petition, had sought interim bail on the
ground that he was languishing in jail for the past 18 months
and it would take considerable time for the trial to conclude.
He challenged the judgement of the Bombay High Court
which had recently upheld the government`s decision to invoke
the MCOCA against him.
According to Purohit, the High Court had erred in
upholding the provision against him even though a special
MCOCA court had earlier quashed the charges under the Special
Act while upholding the charges framed under various
provisions of IPC.
Purhoit`s petition claimed that to invoke MCOCA there has
to be substantial information about his antecedents. As there
was no previous criminal case against him, MCOCA cannot be
invoked, he contended.
The accused, who was a serving Lt Colonel, was arrested
by the Ant-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police for his
alleged role in the September 2008 Malegaon blasts that
claimed six lives.
The army officer, who was in the military
intelligence, was arrested by the ATS in November 2008 on
suspicion of masterminding the Malegaon blast along with other
accused Sadhvi Prayag Thakur and four others.
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.