Malegaon Blast
Malegaon Blast|Times of India
Litigation News

[Malegaon Blast]: Supreme Court asks family of victim to move Bombay High Court seeking extension of Trial Judge's tenure

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today asked the family of one of the victims of the Malegaon Blast case to move the Bombay High Court for the prayer seeking extension of tenure of the Special Judge trying the case. (Nisar Ahmad Sayed Bilal vs UOI)

Judge VS Padalkar, who has been hearing the Malegaon Blast case in a Mumbai Court, was set to retire on February 29 and owing to the urgency of the matter, a plea seeking the extension of his tenure was filed before the Supreme Court couple of days ahead of the scheduled retirement.

This case, however, was taken up for hearing via video conferencing on Wednesday, months after it was filed, when the petitioner was asked to approach the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. The Bench of CJI SA Bobde with Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said,

The petitioner is given liberty to move the learned Chief Justice of High Court of Judicature at Bombay in the instant matter. The learned Chief Justice may take an appropriate decision.
Supreme Court
AS Bopanna, CJI SA Bobde, Hrishikesh roy
AS Bopanna, CJI SA Bobde, Hrishikesh roy

The petition was moved by Nisar Ahmed Sayyed Bilal, who lost his son in the 2008 blasts. The petitioner had sought for an extension of the Judge's tenure to ensure that the trial reaches its logical end and is concluded in the near future.

It was pointed out in the plea that the trial was delayed by over twelve years and subsequently began only after the Apex Court's intervention and orders passed in 2015.

This Hon'ble Court in its judgment dated 15.04.2015 noticed the delay which has taken place in the trial and with a view to ensure speedy trial, a Presiding Officer was directed to be appointed exclusively for deciding these cases.
Nisar Bilal in his petition

Judge Padalkar was appointed the Presiding Officer to hear the case in April 2018. In October that year, charges had been framed and over 140 witnesses were examined. BJP MP Pragya Thakur is one of the accused.

In this backdrop, it was pointed out that the Judge is familiar with the case. Owing to the voluminous records, should the case be heard by a new Judge after February 29, the same will lead to a great delay in the trial's conclusion, the petition submits. The petitioner had thus added that a delay of this nature is violative of his fundamental right under Article 21.

... the records are voluminous and runs into thousands and thousands of pages and the case very complicated [and having been investigated by NIA], it would be in the interests of justice, if the present incumbent continues till the trial is complete.
Nisar Bilal in his petition

In light of the fast-approaching retirement date of Judge Padalkar, the petitioner had made a representation before the Bombay High Court with the same prayer for extension of tenure earlier. However since there was no development in this regard in the High Court, the Apex Court was moved subsequently.

Read Order:

Nisar Ahmad Sayed Bilal vs UOI.pdf
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