The Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to entertain Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit's plea seeking a court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into his alleged abduction, illegal detention and brutal torture in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Naveen Sinha and K M Joseph said entertaining the petition at this stage might impact the ongoing trial in the case. The bench, however, granted Purohit the liberty to raise his contentions before the trial court and said it is not expressing any opinion on his petition.
"Why should we interfere at this stage? It may impact the trial," the bench said. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Purohit, told the bench that the issue raised by Purohit in his plea has to be looked into. Since the NIA is seized of the matter, the agency can look into it, Salve said.
The bench, however, asked him to raise the issue before the trial court. Purohit is currently out on bail. It was granted by the apex court last year. On August 27, he moved the apex court seeking a court-monitored probe into his alleged abduction, illegal detention and brutal torture in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
Purohit sought compensation for his illegal detention and for being tortured brutally by officials of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), the plea said. In his plea, Purohit said he was constrained to bring to the court's notice "the absolute illegal and arbitrary actions of the officials of the Respondent No.1 (Centre) and other agencies of the State, during the relevant time regarding the abduction of the Petitioner, a serving Officer in the Intelligence Corps of the regular Indian Army and his brutal torture in the custody".
He said he had made numerous complaints in this regard to all competent authorities and sought redressal for his grievances. Purohit referred to a recent media interview by former joint secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs R V S Mani and a book, "The Hindu Terror-Insider account of Ministry of Home Affairs 2006-2010".
Citing the interview, the plea said it revealed the "petitioner has been framed by some factions in the previous government for political reasons, including introducing a face of terror under the guise of Saffron Terror".
Purohit said in the plea that he was brutally tortured for eight days and was abducted and tortured by ATS officers before being produced in court. According to the plea, Purohit is a highly decorated officer having received commendation from the Chief of Army Staff and many awards and citations for courage shown in eliminating dangerous terrorists, demolishing established terror networks through a well-built and organised source input network.
The Supreme Court had last year granted bail to Purohit setting aside the Bombay High Court order by which the bail was denied. Purohit had earlier told the apex court that he was caught in a "political crossfire" and had been languishing in jail for nine years.
Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra. A special MCOCA court had earlier ruled that the ATS had wrongly applied this law against Sadhvi Pragya 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. It named Thakur, Purohit and co-accused Swami Dayanand Pandey as key conspirators. The NIA last year gave Thakur a clean chit.