In a U-turn, the Maharashtra ATS, which had initially probed the 2008 Malegaon blasts, failed to produce any video or audio evidence in the Bombay high court on Tuesday to back its claim that accused Pragya Singh Thakur attended a Bhopal meeting at which the plot was allegedly first discussed.
In 2009, the ATS had filed an extensive charge sheet, claiming that Thakur was one of the prime suspects in the case.
However, on Tuesday, it told the court it could not find the CD/DVD containing the Bhopal meeting video and that it wasn’t even sure if it had such a recording.
In compliance with the HC’s order, the trial court had released three packages containing DVDs and audio CDs that the ATS had included with its chargesheet. These packages contained a DVD that “had developed cracks and hence, could not be played”. Another DVD, its transcript and 11 audio CDs were of no value to the present bail application filed by Thakur, said the high court.
A bench of justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi ordered that the packages be resealed and sent back to the trial court. The bench was hearing an appeal filed by Thakur, who challenged the trail court’s order denying bail to her.
At the last hearing, the bench sought the evidence mentioned above since the ATS in its charge sheet had claimed accused Sudhakar Dwivedi used to record the proceedings of the conspiracy meetings. According to the charge sheet, such meetings were held at Faridabad, Bhopal, Ujjain, Indore and Bhopal. The ATS said Thakur was present in the Bhopal meeting in which the accused decided upon Malegaon as the blast site.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case, had claimed to have only the transcript of Faridabad meeting and said Thakur was not present there.
The bench watched a part of a DVD in the open court showing three men in discussion. After NIA’s objection, the bench watched the recording in the judges’ chambers. The HC is likely to resume the hearing in the case on February 16.
On September 29, 2008, an “improvised explosive device” went off near Bhiku Chowk in Malegaon, Maharashtra, killing six people and injuring 101.