Malegaon blast: HC rejects bail of Lt Col Purohit



Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of 2008 Malegaon blast accused Lt Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit but allowed liberty to co-accused Ajay Rahirkar on certain conditions.

"Lt Colonel Purohit was not just involved in talking about Hindu rashtra, but is alleged to have been instrumental in making RDX available," the judge observed while rejecting his bail.

"Reliability of evidence about his bragging to a witness that he had RDX in his possession and the evidence about finding of RDX on a cotton swab would have to be decided at trial. Therefore, he would not be entitled to bail," observed Justice R C Chavan.

"As far as Ajay Rahirkar is concerned, firstly, there is nothing in the conversation to show his involvement. Secondly, all that he could be said to have done is financing purchase of some arms and not any material used in the blasts at the instance of Purohit from the funds of a trust. Hence, Rahirkar would be entitled to bail," the judge held.

Rahirkar was ordered to be released on bail on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh with one or more solvent sureties in the same amount.

The judge asked Rahirkar to scrupulously keep himself away from all witnesses and report at the office of National Investigating Agency or its representative in Mumbai once a month on a convenient date to be fixed by the trial court till the case is over.

Nisar Ahmed Haji Sayed Bilal, a Malegaon resident, had intervened in the matter and opposed the bail plea of both the accused.

Defence lawyer Srikant Shivade argued that there was no direct evidence against the accused and hence they were entitled to bail.

Prosecutor Rohini Salian argued that since conspiracy was hatched in secrecy, such titbit's of information as could be gathered from deliberations at meetings of conspirators, evidence about their movement and association with material or articles used in the blast, traced backwards from seizure of two wheeler which was found to have been used, could lead to the inference of applicants involvement in conspiracy.

However, the judge felt that this would have to be tested at trial.

Purohit's counsel submitted that the accused was an army officer involved in anti-terror operations and was working for Military Intelligence. He produced some material to support such a contention.

Relying on a Supreme Court judgement, the defence counsel argued that it would not be proper to implicate a person merely because of his communication with a person involved in the offence.

He urged the court to consider that Purohit was a serving army officer with a good record in jail for the last three years. Hence, he should be given bail.

Purohit and Rahirkar were arrested and issued charge sheet in connection with the Malegaon bomb blast that occurred on September 29, 2008 and in which seven persons were killed.

Co-accused include sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi alias Shankaracharya and Rakesh Dhawade.

According to prosecution, the accused had formed an organisation known as Abhinav Bharat Trust at Pune in 2006 with headquarters at the address of Rahirkar. It was registered on February 9, 2007. They allegedly took an oath to strive to turn India into a Hindu rashtra called Aryawart.

It was alleged that the members met from time to time to discuss various aspects for achieving their goal. Accused Shankaracharya is stated to have recorded conversations at the meetings and these recordings are the foundation of the case built up against the two applicants.

Approval for applying provisions of MCOCA in this case was granted on November 20, 2008, and the applicants were booked for offences under this stringent act.

Purohit and Rahirkar along with others were issued charge sheet for offences under various enactments including MCOCA. Both the applicants applied for bail before the special judge. On July 31, 2009, the judge held that charges against them under MCOCA did not survive and discharged them. He directed that the case be placed before regular sessions court to try them for other offences and therefore rejected their applications for bail.

The state challenged the order discharging the accused from offences under MCOCA before the high court. A division bench partly allowed the applications on July 19, 2010 and directed the special judge to decide the bail application expeditiously.

PTI