The Supreme Court on Monday asked Maharashtra government and NIA to reply to a plea by Malegaon blast case accused Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, challenging the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) charges against him and seeking stay on the trial in the case.
A bench of Justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre gave the state government and the NIA four weeks’ time to reply.
The Bombay High Court had on December 18 last year dismissed Purohit’s plea along with that of Sameer Kulkarni, both accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
Their defence centred on the legality of the sanction accorded to prosecute them. Purohit and Kulkarni told the high court that under UAPA, the state law and judiciary department, the sanctioning authority, has to seek a report from an appropriate authority.
Purohit contended that in his case, though sanction was given in January 2009, the authority was appointed in October 2010. The duo is out on bail.
Six persons were killed and 101 injured when an IED strapped to a bike went off at Malegaon, a town with sizable Muslim population in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, on September 29, 2008.
On December 27 last year, a special NIA court ruled that Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Purohit and six other accused will stand trial on stringent terror charges in the case. The NIA had earlier given a clean chit to Pragya, saying there was not enough evidence against her in the case but the court rejected the probe agency’s submission saying it was difficult to accept the claim, given that her motorcycle was used in the blast. The court had said that charges will be framed against Purohit and six other accused.
They are set to face trial under sections 16 and 18 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (conspiring for and committing/organising a terror act) and under IPC for criminal conspiracy, murder, attempt to murder and causing hurt besides charges under Explosive Substances Act and Arms Act. The charges are punishable by various prison terms up to life, and death for murder.