The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned hearing of petitions demanding its intervention to ensure a fair trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case in view of the special prosecutor’s allegations that she was pressured to go slow against the accused in the case.
In her interview to The Indian Express, published on June 25, Rohini Salian, the former Special Public Prosecutor, had said that she was under pressure from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go “soft” in the case. Citing this interview, activist Harsh Mander had filed the PIL.
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On Friday, the case was deferred as one of the judges on the bench, Justice Uday U Lalit, recused from hearing it after pointing out that he had represented certain accused in the matter when he was a lawyer.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Mander, said she had no objection if the present bench opts to decide the case. But the bench replied: “Let it go to a different bench.”
The lawyers in the two pertinent petitions are likely to mention it before the Chief Justice of India on Monday for an urgent listing before some other bench. Another petition has been filed by Nisar Ahmed, the father of a blast victim, through Shadan Farasat.
Mander’s petition referred to the interview and said the executive was attempting to influence the judicial system in breach of repeated directives by the court. It alleged that officials of the NIA had pressured Salian “to go soft on the accused presumably under instructions from their political masters”. Salian is no longer on the NIA’s panel of lawyers.
It sought a direction to the Centre to appoint a Special Public Prosecutor to conduct a fair trial and constitute a special investigating team of CBI to probe NIA officials who allegedly pressured Salian.
The Malegaon blast, on September 29, 2008, had claimed four lives and injured 79 while another blast at the same time in Modasa in Gujarat had killed one.
Investigations in the case pointed to alleged Hindu extremists based in Indore, as first reported by The Indian Express on October 23, 2010.
Twelve people were arrested in the case, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit. Of the 12, four are out on bail.
The petition stated that the Ministry of Home Affairs, which runs the NIA, has been trying to pressurise “an honest prosecutor to go soft” on the accused. It said there are reasons to fear that “the executive is attempting to influence the judicial system” to cave in to the pressure exerted by it in all matters, “including affording protection to right wing extremists who sympathise with its ideology”.
The petition said unless the apex court steps in, the victims of the Malegaon blast cannot expect justice in the current scenario due to the “brazen illegalities” allegedly committed by the government.