The special court hearing the Malegaon 2008 blast case has observed that if the ATS feels aggrieved by the observations made in the chargesheet by the NIA, it can take appropriate legal steps. In its chargesheet filed last month, the NIA had called the ATS probe in the case ‘dubious’, ‘questionable’ and filled with ‘lacuna’.
Special Judge SD Tekale made this observation while rejecting an intervention plea which sought notice to be sent to the ATS so that it can be given an opportunity to be heard. One of the contention of the petitioner, Sayyed Nisar Ahmed, was that ATS is not aware about the progress of the proceeding in the case.
“It is improbable to believe that ATS has no knowledge about the chargesheet filed by the NIA. If really ATS feels aggrieved by the observations made in the chargesheet, it is for ATS to take appropriate steps permissible in law,” the court observed. The second supplementary chargesheet was filed by the NIA on May 13. While ATS had chargesheeted 12 accused in the case, the NIA has said that there is no evidence maintainable against four of them, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.
The petitioner had also referred to the proceeding in the Malegaon 2006 blasts. The similarity in the two cases was that both the probes were transferred from the ATS to eventually the NIA. In the 2006 case, the NIA had booked an entire new set of accused, finding no evidence against the nine men the ATS had chargesheeted. In the case, the special had issued a notice to the ATS. The agency represented itself in opposing the bail and discharge applications filed by the nine men. The court last month discharged the men and the ATS is likely to approach the higher court in appeal against it.
Special Judge Tekale observed that the situation in two cases is different. “In this case, NIA has accepted part of the investigation done by the ATS and NIA is in disagreement in respect of certain accused persons only,” while rejecting the applicant. It also observes that though there is ‘disagreement’ between the two agencies, it can be considered at an appropriate stage. “There cannot be two public prosecutors and two prosecuting agencies for conducting one trial,” the court said. The NIA too had opposed making ATS a party in the case.
A legal expert pointed out that the ATS can file a writ petition to seek an opportunity to represent itself in the case. So far, the ATS has not been party in the case since the NIA took over in 2011.