THE INDIAN Army has said that it has no objection in taking custody of Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, an accused in the Malegaon 2008 blast case, if the court directs so. The response by the Army is on an application filed by Purohit last month stating that he has apprehensions about his safety at the Taloja central prison where he is currently lodged.
Purohit has sought a transfer to military custody and has also made the Army a respondent. The Army has said that the special court hearing the matter may decide upon its discretion on the application made by Purohit regarding his transfer. “It is submitted that the answering respondent (Army) has no objection to the transfer of custody of Lt. Col Prasad Purohit, accused number 9, to the Army, if the court so directs,” according to the reply.
Purohit was serving as a military intelligence officer in the Army before his arrest in 2008 in the Malegaon blast case. The blast had killed six and injured 79 people. Purohit has maintained that he had attended meetings of the organisation, Abhinav Bharat, as part of his intelligence gathering and had informed his seniors in the Army about it. In his application seeking a transfer, Purohit has said that since the information about his past work as a military intelligence officer has been made public, he fears being attacked.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has objected to Purohit’s application saying that transfer of custody cannot be by the choice of the accused. “We have also said that this could cause further delay in the trial,” said special public prosecutor Avinash Rasal. The Army, too, has said if the court orders the transfer of custody, it would be to the limited extent that it will provide proper facilities for his custody and for his production and access as may be required by the court.
The court is likely to pass an order on the application this week. In case of a transfer, Purohit will be in military custody and will be produced before the special court for the trial through an Army escort. Cases where such transfers have happened include the murder case involving Naval commander Kawas Nanavati in 1959. Nanavati was facing a trial before the sessions court for having murdered his wife’s lover. During the trial, he was transferred to Naval custody.