The Supreme Court on Monday posted for February 23 the final hearing on the bail application moved by Malegaon bomb blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, who has claimed she has been tortured and verbally abused by the ATS.
A bench of justices J M Panchal and H L Gokhale posted the matter for final hearing after listening to arguments at length put forward by senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani appearing for Thakur.
Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of Maharashtra. The probe into the blast had brought into focus some right-wing Hindu groups.
Jethmalani submitted that Thakur was entitled to bail as Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had failed to file the charge sheet against her within the mandatory 90 days of her arrest on October 23, 2008.
The counsel alleged that the accused had been subjected to harassment, physical torture and verbal abuses by the ATS squad during her "illegal" custody from October 10, 2008 onwards.
He contended the authorities had violated section 160 CrPC under which any woman suspect or accused ought to be questioned at the place where she is residing and before sunset.
But in the case of Thakur, he said, though she was living a renounced way of life as a sadhvi, the ATS squad compelled the accused to come all the way from her ashram in Jabalapur to Surat and Mumbai in the name of questioning even without issuing formal summons as required under the CrPC.
Maharashtra Government counsel Asha Nair, however, took the plea that Thakur was arrested on October 23 and produced before a magistrate as required under the law.
The state said it would furnish all necessary records to prove the alleged involvement of the accused and details relating to her arrest and questioning.