The 2008 Malegaon blast accused, Lt. Colonel Shrikant Purohit, claimed before the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad had “fabricated evidence” in the case to “incriminate him,” and that, such injudiciousness on its part was a “substantive ground” for him to seek bail.
Purohit’s counsel, advocate Shrikant Shivade, argued that the National Investigating Agency (NIA) in its supplementary charge sheet, had also accused the Maharashtra ATS of “planting RDX traces to frame” Purohit and that “it had been proved in several previous cases that the ATS had a history of fabricating evidence.”
Shivade was arguing for Purohit following an appeal filed by the latter, challenging a sessions court order rejecting his bail application. He has claimed in his plea that he has been in detention for eight years and that his bail plea has consistently been denied by a special court since 2010.
“Purohit was taken in custody from the Indian Army on October 29, 2008. He was illegally detained and tortured by the ATS. On November 3, 2008, ATS officers planted RDX in a room and claimed that Purohit had revealed about this room during interrogation,” Shivade said.
He added, “However, later several witnesses, when questioned by the NIA, had said that the ATS had coerced them into giving false statements. The ATS is infamously known for framing innocent persons and planting evidence against the accused. In the same case, the CBI has filed an FIR against a few ATS officers for their involvement in a witness, Dilip Patidar, going missing,” Shivade said.
He also urged the court to consider that in its supplementary charge sheet filed before the special court last year, the NIA had dropped the stringent MCOCA charge against all accused in the case including him. Instead, it has now suggested that Purohit and the others who are still facing trial in the case, be tried under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) that still remains valid. However, the provisions of UAPA that has rather stringent conditions on bail according to UAPA provisions, in extreme cases where courts find reasonable grounds to believe that the terror charges are prima facie true, the accused may be denied bail altogether — “should not be applied to his case retrospectively,” he argued.
HC is likely to continue the hearing on Purohit’s plea on Thursday.