Malegaon blasts: SC seeks replies from Centre, Maharashtra

11 September 2015

The Supreme Court has sought replies from the Centre, the Maharashtra government and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on petitions demanding its intervention to ensure a fair trial in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case in view of the special prosecutor's allegations that she was pressured to go slow against the accused.

In her interview to The Indian Express, published on 25 June, Rohini Salian, the former Special Public Prosecutor, had said that she was under pressure from the NIA to go ''soft'' in the case.

Today a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar issued notices to the Centre, state government and the NIA, asking them to respond within a week to the allegations of complicity between the prosecution and the accused and also to investigate Salian's accusations against the agency.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising sought an immediate intervention, contending that the accused were being granted bail either in the absence of the prosecution or with its consent. They pleaded for a stay on bail proceeding.

But the bench said that it would wait for responses from the governments and the NIA and that it may cancel the bail if the allegations are found to be true. The court will hear the case after a week.

It turned down a plea to stay the trial proceedings during the pendency of the case and further said there was no necessity to seek Salian's response at this stage.

The petitions have been filed by Nisar Ahmed, the father of a blast victim, and activist Harsh Mander.

Mander's petition referred to the IE interview and said the executive was attempting to influence the judicial system in breach of repeated directives by the court. It alleged that officials of the NIA had pressured Salian ''to go soft on the accused presumably under instructions from their political masters''. Salian is no longer on NIA's panel of lawyers.

It sought a direction to the Centre to appoint a Special Public Prosecutor to conduct a fair trial and constitute a special investigating team of CBI to probe NIA officials who allegedly pressured Salian.

The Malegaon blast on 28 September 2008, claimed four lives and injured 79 while another blast at the same time in Modasa in Gujarat killed one person. Investigations in the case allegedly pointed to Hindu extremists based in Indore.

Twelve people were arrested in the case, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit. Of the 12, four are out on bail.

The petition stated that the ministry of home affairs, which controls the NIA, has been trying to pressurise ''an honest prosecutor to go soft'' on the accused. It said there are reasons to fear that the executive is attempting to influence the judicial system to cave in to the pressure exerted by it in all matters, ''including affording protection to right wing extremists who sympathise with its ideology.''

The petition said unless the apex court steps in, the victims of the Malegaon blasts cannot expect justice in the current scenario due to the ''brazen illegalities'' allegedly committed by the government.

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