Lt Col Prasad Purohit, prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that he "mingled" with other accused like sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Dayanand Pandey as part of a "covert military intelligence operation".
Arguing for his bail plea, Purohit's counsel Shrikant Shivade said, "He had mingled with the other accused and attended meetings with them so as to get intelligence information. Purohit had informed his superiors in the army about the meetings and discussions."
After his arrest, Purohit had requested the chief of the Army Staff to permit him to disclose the army operation to the investigating agencies, but he was not allowed to do so, he said.
"Earlier, Purohit had infiltrated the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and pretended to be one of them so as to earn their trust and gather inside information. He has received several meritorious awards from Army for his work," Shivade said.
Justice A M Thipsay, however, was not convinced with the argument.
"This is not prima facie acceptable. If this was the case then logically the Army would have protected Purohit when he has been accused of such serious offences," the court said.
Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian argued the military authorities have denied that Purohit was part of any covert intelligence operation. The court will continue hearing the arguments on Thursday.
Maharashtra ATS had arrested 12 people, including Purohit and Pragya, for allegedly orchestrating the blast in the powerloom town of Malegaon in September 2008, in which six persons were killed and several injured.
The high court recently granted bail to two of the accused - Shyam Sahu and Shivnarayan Kalsangra - after observing that there was no material against them.