The special court conducting trial into the 2008 Malegaon blast case on Tuesday directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to summon witnesses while asking all seven accused to appear before it on Thursday, the next date of hearing.
The trial, which began last year, was stalled after the previous judge hearing the case retired in February. Pending notification from the Union government to appoint a new judge, the lockdown was imposed in March.
On Tuesday, Special Judge P R Sitre told the prosecution and the defence that trial should resume and the NIA should summon witnesses.
Special Public Prosecutor Avinash Rasal, appearing for NIA, said that since most witnesses in the case are from Malegaon near Nashik or outside Mumbai, it may be difficult to summon them to appear before the court amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He also sought time for the NIA to contact witnesses.
The court, meanwhile, said that all accused in the case – Pragya Singh Thakur, Prasad Purohit, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi, Ramesh Upadhyay and Sudhakar Chaturvedi – should appear before it on Thursday.
So far, 140 witnesses have been examined by the prosecution, most of them victims of the blast, who have suffered injuries. Six persons had lost their lives while over 100 were injured in the blast on September 29, 2008. Last year, the court had said that it would not grant exemption from appearance to any accused unless a cogent reason is provided.
Meanwhile, the NIA on Tuesday filed a reply to an application filed by the kin of a victim seeking that the trial be expedited and evidence be recorded by summoning witnesses.