The Special court hearing the 2008 Malegaon blast case Friday directed all accused, including BJP’s Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur, to remain present before it at least once a week. The court said any absence would require a “cogent” reason.
Special Judge V S Padalkar said: “It appears that accused do not attend court on one or another ground. The prayers in all exemption applications are one and the same. Considering the nature of offences and charges in the case, it would not be proper for the accused to remain absent forever by filing exemption applications.”
He said the discretion lies with the court to decide whether to grant exemption to the accused from appearance on the basis of documents and prayers made in the exemption applications. “All the accused are directed to remain present once a week before the court. In absence, they should file exemption application with cogent reasons.the court reserved the right to reject such applications if the reason for exemption is not found to be cogent,” he said.
Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay are facing trial for their alleged role in the 2008 Malegaon 2008 blast which killed six and injured 101 people.
So far, 113 prosecution witnesses have deposed — these include injured victims and independent witnesses — regarding panchnamas of the dead and injured. Since this was not contested by any of the accused except Dwivedi, the accused had sought exemption from appearance.
All accused, except Kulkarni, through their advocates, file exemption applications daily giving reasons including medical treatment, religious pilgrimage and distance to travel, for not appearing before the court.
On Friday, the court said that with the deposition of material witnesses, the presence of the accused is necessary. The defence advocates told the court that the accused will remain present as and when the court orders.
All the accused were present before the court together, including Thakur, on October 30, 2018, when the charges were framed against them.
Meanwhile, the court also allowed an application filed by the National Investigation Agency seeking to produce the register of the station diary and FIR of the incident maintained at Azad Nagar police station in Malegaon. The accused had opposed the plea stating that since the documents were not part of the chargesheet, the prosecution should not be permitted to bring them on record now.
The court also rejected the application filed by Nisar Ahmed Sayyed Bilal, whose son had died in the blast, seeking directions from the court to ask the Maharashtra ATS to depute officers to assist the NIA in the trial.