The Bombay High Court today directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing the 2006 Malegaon blasts case, to file its affidavit in response to an appeal filed by Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) challenging the discharge of eight accused in the case.
The state had moved the High Court in appeal against the order of the Sessions court discharging the eight accused.
In April, the Sessions court here discharged the eight Muslim youths of all terror charges after the NIA submitted that the blasts were the handiwork of a Hindu extremist group.
Seven of the Hindu accused have also approached the High Court seeking bail.
A division bench of Justices R V More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi today asked NIA to file its affidavit in reply to the bail pleas as well, within two weeks.
NIA counsel Prakash Shetty told the court that the agency has not been served a copy of the bail pleas and the ATS appeal.
The court directed for the petitions to be served to the NIA and sought its response.
The serial bomb blasts outside a cemetery near Hamidia mosque at Malegaon, near Nashik, on September 8, 2006, claimed 37 lives and injured over 100 people.
Bombs were planted on bicycles parked near the cemetry and they went off after Friday prayers at the Mosque on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat.
Nine accused, suspected to have links with Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), were initially arrested in the case and chargesheeted by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS). One of them died while the case was pending. Four others, including a Pakistan national, are absconding.
Later, CBI, which took over investigations, also confirmed the charges against them.
However, the case took a turn when Swami Assemanand, an accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjis bombing case, allegedly revealed to the probe agency about the role of a Hindu right wing outfit in the 2006 Malagaon blasts case.
Thereafter, NIA told the court that it had no evidence against the nine accused in the case.
Another serial blasts had rocked Malegaon in 2008 in which ATS led by late Hemant Karkare allegedly found the involvement of a Hindu right wing outfit.
Hearing the 2006 case, the judge said that he was accepting the discharge application filed by the 8 accused as there was no evidence to prove their guilt.
They are Narul Hooda Samsuda, Raes Ahmed Rajab Ali Mansoori, Dr Salman Farsi Abdul, Dr Farok Iqbal Ahmed Mukdoomi, Shaikh Mohammed Ali Alam Anamat Ali Shaikh, Asif Khan Bashir Khan, Mohammed Jahid Abdul Majid Ansari and Abrar Ahmed Ghulam Ahmed.
The NIA has arrested another set of accused in this case. They are Manohar Nariwala alias Sumer Thakur, Rajendra Chowdhary alias Dashrath, Dhan Singh and Lokesh Sharma.
The agency has filed a chargesheet against them and all of them are currently in jail pending trial.