Eleven members of the radical Hindu outfit, Abhinav Bharat, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and suspended Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, will be tried under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) for their alleged involvement in the 2008 Malegaon blast, the Bombay High Court ruled on Monday.
Under this law, the prosecution can use statements of the accused and witnesses recorded by an officer of the rank of deputy commissioner of police or above as evidence against them, which the Indian Penal Code does not permit (It requires statements to be recorded by a magistrate). This makes it easier to collect evidence and therefore tougher to get bail.
The high court restored the application of MCOCA in the case, which was dropped by a special MCOCA judge in July 2009. “The view taken by the special court is against the well settled legal position,” the division bench observed.
The court also directed the special MCOCA court to decide on the bail applications of the accused afresh “on merit and preferably within three months”.