The Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Thursday ruled that the application of provisions of MCOCA on the 11 people arrested in connection with the Malegaon blast was valid,putting to rest the questions raised by the defence on the merits of MCOCA in this case.
Two days after a battery of defence lawyers appearing for all the accused had challenged the charges,Special MCOCA Judge Y D Shinde ruled that all the charges levelled under MCOCA along with various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA),Arms Act and Explosive Substances Act were valid.
Senior Defence counsel Mahesh Jethmalani had argued that the basis on which MCOCA was invoked was not maintainable before the court as the two chargesheets essential against at least one accused for the invocation of MCOCA was filed only after MCOCA was applied on him. Jethmalani had called the entire investigation a farce.
According to the defence,the two chargesheets on the basis of which MCOCA were applied were just an eyewash and in fact one of the chargesheets against the accused Rakesh Dhawade was filed 8 days after MCOCA was invoked on November 20 last year. Dhawade was allegedly a core member of the group involved in the blast and had also carried explosions to Parbhani and Jalna in 2003. MCOCA could be invoked only because Dhawade had two more chargesheets filed against him in earlier cases.
Evidently relieved after the court order,Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian confirmed,The court has held that the charges under MCOCA will remain and the court has taken cognisance of the chargesheet filed by the ATS on January 20.
However,the defence team is now looking at other options to appeal before the high court. We are contemplating filing a criminal writ petition in the Bombay High Court within a weeks time,challenging the issuance of process under MOCCA and the cognisance of chargesheet taken by the court. We are also planning to make a discharge application in MCOCA for Pragya Singh Thakur,as there is no tangible evidence against her, said Ganesh Sovani one of the defence lawyers.
On Tuesday,the ATS had filed the chargesheet against the 11 accused. Six people were killed in the blast in Malegaon town of Maharashtra on the night of September 29,2008.