THE NIA discharging two accused in the 2008 Malegaon case, Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh, may also affect the Malegaon 2006 blasts case, in which they continue to remain accused. Sharma and Singh were common to both the cases but were discharged by the NIA last week in the 2008 case, citing insufficient evidence to prosecute them.
Currently, two Mumbai courts are hearing the cases pertaining to both the Malegaon blasts. In the 2006 case, the investigation was first conducted by the state ATS, which had booked nine Muslim men as accused. The CBI, which took over the probe, continued to name the nine as accused and filed a supplementary chargesheet against them.
The NIA took over investigation in 2011 and booked another set of accused, currently under trial in the case. The special court discharged the previous nine men last month. In the 2008 case, meanwhile, the NIA has filed a chargesheet naming 10 persons as accused, including Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni and others.
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The court hearing the 2006 blasts case is hearing the bail arguments filed by the four accused in February, which include Sharma, Singh, Manohar Nar-waria and Rajendra Chaudhary. Their lawyers referred to the NIA chargesheet in the 2008 case claiming that since some of the evidence filed by NIA against the two common accused was also same, their discharge from the case paves way for them to be released on bail in the current case.
“For instance, with regard to Dhan Singh, the NIA has said that he had disclosed in police custody regarding training in Bagli on bomb-making. The NIA notes that it cannot be independently established and therefore is not considered as evidence sufficient enough. The same evidence used against Singh in this case also may not hold,” it was argued.
Further, advocate Prashant Maggu, appearing for Narwaria and Sharma, pointed out that one of the witnesses examined by the NIA, who has deposed that he identified the accused who brought a bicycle on which the bomb was planted, too may not remain reliable.
Maggu argued that after over six years after the blast, it may not be possible that the witness may remember exact details of a customer to depose about his identity.
The court will continue to hear the arguments on bail on May 24.