Directing all accused to appear before it on December 19, the special court conducting the 2008 Malegaon blast trial said on Thursday that the case will be heard daily from Friday.
The court had on Wednesday directed all the seven accused to appear before it on Thursday. While accused Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar and Prasad Purohit remained present, BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur, Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Dwivedi and Sudhakar Chaturvedi stayed away. Their lawyers cited Covid-19 pandemic to explain their absence.
Following this, the court directed all the accused to appear before it on December 19.
A witness, whose deposition was recorded partly earlier, also appeared before the court on Thursday. The lawyers of the accused, however, sought time to cross-examine him. Following this, the court directed the accused to pay Rs 2,000 for the expenses incurred by the witness to come to the court on Thursday.
The witness is to be cross-examined regarding a spot panchnama conducted at the site of the blast for identification of shrapnels, splinters and other material seized from the spot. The trial will resume on Friday with the cross-examination of the witness. So far, 138 witnesses and two witnesses whose cross-examination is pending, have deposed before the court.
Special Public Prosecutor Avinash Rasal, representing National Investigation Agency, told the court that it may be difficult for witnesses to travel to Mumbai amid the pandemic and sought time. The court, however, said that the trial should be conducted on a daily basis.
The trial has been stalled since February when the special judge presiding over the case retired. A notification for a new judge was subsequently issued by the central government but the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown led to the trial remaining suspended.
On September 29, 2008, six persons had lost their lives and over 100 injured in a blast that took place in Malegaon near Nashik. The accused are facing charges under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as well as murder, criminal conspiracy and other charges under the Indian Penal Code.
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