THE SPECIAL court hearing the 2008 Malegaon blast case issued a non-bailable warrant against accused Sudhakar Dhardwivedi for non-appearance before the court. The court also directed all seven accused, including Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit and Pragya Singh Thakur, to appear before it on September 5 for framing of charges.
In December last year, the special court had dropped charges against all 12 accused under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), while directing that seven of the accused would continue to face trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other sections including murder, criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code. The charges against them, however, are yet to be framed.
The court rejected the discharge applications of the seven accused, including Purohit, Thakur, Dhardwivedi, Sameer Kulkarni, Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar and Sudhakar Chaturvedi. All the accused are currently out on bail.
Purohit’s appeal against his discharge being rejected is pending before the Bombay High Court, while another plea filed by him on the inapplicability of the UAPA is pending before the Supreme Court.
Purohit had sought deferring of framing of charges before the trial court on this ground. The court, however, said it would proceed with the matter as no stay had been granted on the proceedings, pending the appeals.
Last month, accused Kulkarni submitted before the High Court that the trial court has not been able to proceed with the matter and the record and proceedings related to the case are sent to the High Court.
The division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai had said that the records and proceedings ‘may not be necessary’ to decide the appeal. The bench further said that since the Supreme Court has directed for expeditious hearing in the case, the registry should send the record and proceedings to the trial court.
“A critical situation arises as there is no progress in the matter. No specific order has been passed. Therefore, in lieu of the observation of the High Court, no alternative is left with the court except to proceed further in the matter,” the special court said, while rejecting applications seeking deferring of hearing. The court also directed all seven accused to remain present, stating that their exemption pleas would not be accepted.
Dhardwivedi had sought exemption from appearing before the court, stating that he was attending a religious practice in Guwahati. The court, however, rejected his exemption plea and issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
A blast had taken place in Malegaon near Nashik on September 9, 2008, killing six persons and injuring 101.