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Malegaon case: SC asks Bombay HC to hear Purohit's plea on sanction to prosecute

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Bombay High Court to hear on November 21 a plea of Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, one of the accused in the 2008 Malegaon bast case, that he was being prosecuted for terror charges under the stringent UAPA without any valid sanction.

The apex court had, on April 20 this year, granted Purohit the liberty to raise the issue of grant of sanction to prosecute him under the Unlawful Aactivities (Prevention) Act before the trial court at the time of framing of charges. However, the trial court had rejected Purohit's plea on sanction and had framed charges against him.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Purohit, old a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Monday that the trial court had framed charges against him without properly considering his plea that there was no valid sanction to prosecute him.

The bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, asked the High Court to deal with Purohit's plea on November 21.

"The issue raised in the present petitions is being considered by the High Court of Bombay on November 21.

"In view of the same, we do not consider it necessary to entertain the special leave petitions, and instead request the High Court to hear and decide the matter on the date fixed. The special leave petitions are, accordingly, dismissed," the apex court noted in the order.

Purohit, in his fresh plea, has referred to the earlier apex court order by which the trial court was asked to deal with the claim of Purohit that he was being prosecuted under penal laws including the UAPA without any sanction from the authorities.

The plea also alleged that the charges have been framed against Purohit and others by the special court which had commenced the trial without dealing with his plea on sanction.

The apex court, while granting bail to Purohit on August 21, 2017, had also said the issue of grant of prosecution sanction could be raised at the time of framing of charges.

Earlier, a special court had, on October 30, framed terror charges against Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five other accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, setting the stage for their trial which commenced on November 2.

It had said that the organisation named Abhinav Bharat was formed by the accused with the common object to "spread terrorism" and had framed charges of criminal conspiracy and murder, among other offences.

Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from Mumbai in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

The special court had framed charges against all the seven accused under relevant sections of the stringent UAPA and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Apart from Purohit and Sadhvi, the other accused are - Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni.

The accused were charged under sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA.

Under the IPC, they were charged under sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups).

If convicted under these sections, the maximum punishment can be life imprisonment or death.

The accused were also charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra police, which probed the case, had initially charged Thakur, Purohit, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre, Rakesh Dhawade, Ajay Rahirkar, Samir Kulkarni, Shyam Sahu, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Pravin Mutalik and Ramchandra Kalsangra.

Thakur and Purohit were arrested the same year along with nine others for the blast conspiracy.

On August 21, last year, the apex court had granted bail to Purohit, who had been languishing in jail for almost nine years for his alleged role in the case, observing there were contradictions in the charge sheets filed by different investigating agencies.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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