The NIA told the Supreme Court today there were "several incriminating circumstances" against accused Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, which proved his "deep involvement and complicity" in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), however, told a bench comprising Justices R K Agarwal and M M Shantanagoudar it had not found "sufficient evidence" to prosecute accused Pragya Singh Thakur in the case.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court on a plea by Purohit, who is seeking bail, the NIA said it had not objected to bail being granted to Thakur as it had not found sufficient evidence against her. "It is not correct to say that the high court erred in ignoring the doctrine of parity by granting bail to the co-accused Pragya Singh Thakur," it said.
The doctrine of parity was not applicable "since there are several incriminating circumstances" against Purohit which prove "his deep involvement and complicity in the crime", the NIA claimed.
The apex court today sought a response from the Maharashtra government on a plea challenging the Bombay High Court's order granting bail to Thakur and listed the matter for a hearing on August 14, along with Purohit's bail plea. In its affidavit, the NIA said during the probe it examined some defence personnel and their statements were referred to in the charge sheet.
"The NIA is not relying on the statements of the witnesses, who have retracted from their earlier statements before different forums and the same can be considered during the trial and not at this stage for grant of bail," it said.
It added Mumbai's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had obtained sanction under Section 45(2) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act before filing the charge sheet and Purohit's contention that the sanctioning authority had not followed the procedure could be considered during the trial.
"At this stage, it would be premature to come to any conclusion about the procedure followed by the sanctioning authority," the affidavit said.
The facts would be explain by the authorities during the trial "and the accused persons will also get the chance to clear their doubts during the cross examination", it said.
Nisar Ahmed Haji Sayed Bilal, father of one of the blast victims, has sought a stay on the high court's April 25 order granting bail to Thakur. The court had granted her the relief saying there was "no prima facie evidence against her".
The High Court, however, had refused bail to Purohit. The apex court had on May 5 sought a response from the NIA and Maharashtra on Purohit's bail plea.
Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in the Nasik district of north Maharashtra. A Special MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) court had earlier ruled that the Anti-Terrorist Squad had wrongly applied the MCOCA in the case against Thakur, Purohit and nine others.
The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because of a sizeable Muslim population there. It named Thakur, Purohit and co-accused Swami Dayanand Pandey as the key conspirators. The charge sheet had further alleged it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange for the explosive RDX, while Thakur owned a motorcycle which was used in the blast.
Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised funds for the terror act, while conspiracy meetings were held at the Bhonsala Military School in Nasik, it had said. Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni were the other accused in the case.