In a significant development, the Bombay High Court on Monday restored proceedings under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) on all 11 accused, including Sadhvi Pragya, in the September 29, 2008 Malegaon bomb blast.
A division bench comprising Justice BH Marlapalle and Justice AV Mohta set aside an order of a lower court of July 31, 2009, dropping charges under the MCOCA on the accused.
The high court upheld the contention of the state government, which went in appeal against the lower court's order, that MCOCA should be made applicable on the 11 accused in the terror case. Six people were killed and at least 20 injured in the blast.
"All the accused are currently in custody in different jails in the state and shall be brought to Mumbai for trial under MCOCA on July 23," Sadhvi's lawyer Ganesh Sovani told IANS.
On July 31 last year, a Special MCOCA court here had ruled that Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had wrongly applied MCOCA in this case against Pragya, Lt Col SP Purohit and nine others.
The special Court had opined that none of the accused was part of organised crime syndicate and also no one had more than one chargesheet filed against him for invoking MCOCA.
Accordingly, the special court dropped MCOCA charges and the case was transferred to a Nasik court for trial under IPC.
The 4,000-page chargesheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because Muslims form sizeable part of its population. It named Pragya Thakur, Purohit and another accused Swami Dayanand Pandey as the key conspirators.
The chargesheet had further alleged it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange for RDX while Sadhvi owned the motorcycle used in the blast.
Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised finances for the terror act while conspiracy meetings were held at Bhonsala Military School in Nasik.
Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni were the other seven accused.