A division bench of the Bombay High Court which granted Pragya Singh Thakur alias Sadhvi Poornachetananad Giri bail and simultaneously rejected the bail plea of co-accused Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, for their involvement in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, passed two separate detailed orders.
On Tuesday, the bench noted that it had chosen to consider the findings of both the charge sheets filed by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA). However, most of the evidence cited by the ATS against Thakur failed to support the charges framed against her.
The court, while granting bail to Thakur, primarily relied on the fact that two witnesses, Swami Amurtanand Devtirth and Rakesh Dhawade, who had first implicated Thakur, had retracted their statements. The bench also pointed out that the forensic laboratory could not say with “certainty” that the engine number of the LML Freedom motorbike that was used to plant the bomb was the same as that of the bike that once belonged to Thakur.
Besides, there were statements by witnesses to establish that even if the bike was the same, Thakur had sold it to Ramchandra Kalsangra two years before the blast. It also went on to note that though some witnesses had claimed to have seen Thakur at the Bhopal meeting, where the conspiracy of the blast was first hatched, much contradictory statements co-existed, and that several others were present in the said meeting, thus the same “cannot be considered as a circumstance against Thakur.”
So the court directed that Thakur be released from judicial custody as soon as she provides a surety of Rs5 lakh. It also directed her to deposit her passport with the NIA court, to remain present before the agency whenever required, and to not tamper with the evidence.
Blow to Purohit
The court, however, minced no words in rejecting the defence presented by Purohit. It said that it could not accept his contention that he had no role in the blast and that instead, he was attending the meetings only to gather military intelligence.
The bench refused to consider the findings of the ministry of defence and the court of inquiry which Purohit claimed supported his contentions. It said that at this stage of bail, it could only rely upon the case diaries and the charge sheets.
The court also said that after going through the transcripts of the various conspiracy meetings and Purohit’s phone calls, both before and after the blast, it was clear that he was dissatisfied with the Indian constitution and instead, envisaged a Hindu Rashtra. So he founded Abhinav Bharat, collected money for the group, and propagated “Guerrilla War against the Jihadi activities of Muslims.”
The court observed that if Purohit was indeed gathering military intelligence, he needn’t have feared getting arrested after the blasts and discussed destruction of evidence in phone calls with other accused persons.