2006 Malegaon blasts case: Bombay High Court grants bail to four
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday granted bail to four accused in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case on the grounds that it was not possible to conclude that the accusations made against them were prima facie true.
The court further held that the accused had already been in jail since 2013 and as per the guidelines set out by the Supreme Court, they were eligible for bail as the trial was not likely to be concluded within the next six months. The court allowed the applications on a cash bail of Rs 50,000 each and directed the accused to attend the trial regularly.
The serial bomb blasts outside a cemetery near Hamidia mosque at Malegaon near Nashik on September 8, 2006, claimed 37 lives and injured over 100 people.
A division bench of justices I Mahanty and AM Badar had concluded hearing the appeals of Dhan Singh, Lokesh Sharma, Manohar Narwaria and Rajendra Chaudhary against the special court’s rejection of their bail applications on April 30 and had reserved its judgement. On Friday, the court pronounced its judgement. It observed, “We are unable to concur with the finding of the learned special judge, to the effect that, there are reasonable grounds for believing the accusation against appellants/accused persons is prima facie true.”
The special court had rejected the bail applications of the quartet based on the fresh investigation conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The counsels for the accused had argued that though the charge sheets by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had incriminated nine people for the blasts, after the NIA took over the probe, those nine were discharged by the special court. Following this, the four accused who have now been granted bail were incriminated. The counsels argued the fresh investigation by the NIA was unwarranted as the probe by the ATS and CBI was sufficient.
The counsels also argued that the special court had set aside the reports of CBI and ATS and had solely relied upon the NIA report to reject the bail pleas of the four accused. The counsels said this was against the norms laid down by the apex court.
Accepting these arguments, the court allowed the bail applications for the accused. It also directed them to be present before the trial court as and when trial commenced and not to contact witnesses or threaten them.