Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, told the Supreme Court Thursday that he has been caught in “political crossfire” and is in jail for nine years without even charges being framed against him. Purohit has moved the court challenging Bombay High Court’s order dismissing his bail plea. A bench of Justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre reserved its verdict.
“My client has got himself caught in political crossfire. He has been in jail for nine years but still he is serving in the Indian Army. Since 2001, he has got numerous recommendations for infiltration. From an unsung hero, he has been now called an incarcerated hero,” senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Purohit, said.
“Allegation against me is that I supplied RDX explosive material on the conspiracy hatched by Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. Now, if she is enlarged on bail and given a clean chit by NIA, then the link between me and her is snapped,” Salve said.
“ATS in its chargesheet says that I attended meetings of Abhinav Bharat. Yes, I attended certain meetings, but as a military mole.
“The (trial) court says that it will look into ATS chargesheet at the stage of trial and refuses interim bail even as charges are not framed against me,” Salve said. “I am not asking for discharge in the case, but all I am saying is that after nine years of incarceration, even after MCOCA has been dropped, give me interim bail,” he added.
Salve argued that Purohit has been falsely implicated by ATS and no report has been filed after eight years of Army’s Court of Inquiry.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for NIA, said although it has been found that Purohit informed his seniors about activities of Abhinav Bharat, there were materials which could justify the framing of charges.
The apex court wondered if anything remained of the charges if there were doubts regarding his role in supply of RDX. “Should court look into NIA chargesheet? If yes, it says officer of Anti Terrorism Squad planted the RDX,” Justice R K Agarwal said. The ASG replied that this was an “admitted fact”, following which the court said “but then the only charge against the accused is that he participated in the supply of the RDX”.
The court was referring to the contention in the NIA’s supplementary chargesheet that ASI Bagde of ATS was found in the house of one of the accused Sudhakar Chaturvedi in suspicious circumstances on November 3, 2008.
Senior counsel Amarendra Sharan, who intervened on behalf of the father of a 19-year-old killed in the blast, opposed Purohit’s bail plea, saying that he could influence evidence if released.