2008 Malegaon Blast: Bombay HC directs special NIA court to conduct expeditious trial

Omkar Gokhale

The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Mumbai to expedite trial in 2008 Malegaon Blast case.

A Division Bench of justices Ranjit More and NJ Jamadar was hearing a petition filed by Samir Kulkarni, one of the accused, seeking a speedy trial as per the provisions of the NIA Act. Kulkarni had further also sought for the video recording of the court proceedings.

While disposing of the petition, Justice More said,

We do not want either accused or the prosecution to make any attempt to delay the proceedings.”

Kulkarni, who is on bail, appeared in person and argued that the trial court was not complying with the previous High Court and Supreme Court orders concerning speedy trial. In this regard, he pointed out that the prosecution had summoned only one witness a day.

While requesting that the Court direct the special NIA court to conclude the trial within the next six months, Kulkarni argued,

The whole day is wasted in the court if the witness is unable to attend. Other accused keep filing applications before this court, which delays the process.

However, advocate Sandesh Patil, appearing for NIA, informed the court that 128 witnesses have been examined at the trial court, while 369 are yet to testify.

In July this year, the Bombay High Court, on July 22, directed the NIA to place on record the entire schedule for the prosecution case, with details of day to day proceedings within two weeks. While the NIA could not produce the schedule before the High court on Thursday, advocate Patil told the Court that it would cooperate to conclude the trial as soon as possible.

Patil also argued on Thursday that video recording of the proceeding is not provided for in the NIA Act. However, he informed that the NIA has moved an application for an in-camera trial.

The NIA’s application for in-camera proceedings was filed on August 1 under section 17 (1) of the NIA Act and 44 (1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The NIA has also opposed an intervention application filed by journalists covering the trial against its plea to make the proceedings in-camera. The arguments on journalists’ application are going on at trial court.

BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit are among the accused facing trial in the 2008 Malegaon Blasts case.

Last month, the High Court had directed the NIA to submit a list of witnesses in a sealed cover, after Lt Col Purohit filed an application for production of the non-truncated chargesheet. Purohit had filed a plea for the disclosure of the names of the witnesses in the case as well.

In October last year, a Special Court framed charges against Purohit, BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, and other accused persons under the UAPA. Six people were killed and over 100 injured on September 29, 2008, when an explosive device placed on a motorbike went off near a mosque at Malegaon.

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