The National Investigation Agency had opposed Purohit being granted bail, saying there was enough evidence against him.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday, August 21, granted conditional bail to Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, who has been in jail for the last nine years. The apex court’s ruling overturns the Bombay high court’s dismissal of his bail plea in early June.
According to the Indian Express, while granting Purohit conditional bail – a decision that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) opposed in the last hearing on grounds that there was substantial evidence against him – the Supreme Court said, “We set aside order of Bombay high court.”
While challenging the Bombay high court’s order dismissing his bail plea, Purohit had moved the Supreme Court saying that though he had attended meetings of Abhinav Bharat – a right wing organisation whose members were accused of conspiring in the 2008 blast – he was only acting as an army mole and denied involvement in any terrorist activity.
During the August 17 hearing, Purohit further added that he had been caught in “political crossfire”.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Purohit, said that despite him being in jail for the past nine years, charges were yet to be framed against him, Times of India reported. He had further argued that a charge against his client under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) had been dropped after a special MCOCA court ruled that the Anti-Terrorist Squad had wrongly applied this law against Purohit and ten others. Purohit was therefore entitled to receive interim bail.
“Since 2001, he has got numerous recommendations for infiltration. From an unsung hero, he has been now called an incarcerated hero,” Indian Express quoted Salve as saying.
On September 29, 2008, seven people were killed in a blast in Malegaon district. The 4,000-page chargesheet that was filed in the case – which apart from Purohit named Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Swami Dayanand Pandey as the key conspirators – had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the target because of its sizeable Muslim population.
According to a New Indian Express report, the NIA had last year alleged that Pandey had instructed Purohit to arrange explosive RDX, while Thakur owned the motorcycle used in the blast. Thakur was granted bail by the Bombay high court in April.
(With PTI inputs)