SC bails out Lt Col Purohit in Malegaon blast case

The Supreme Court today granted bail to Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who has been in jail for nine years as an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

A bench of Justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre had reserved its verdict after hearing his plea on 17 August. Purohit had moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court's order dismissing his bail plea. The court set aside Bombay High Court order denying bail to Purohit in the terror case.

The apex court said it has imposed certain conditions on Purohit while granting bail.

During the hearing last week, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Purohit, had said his client has been in jail for the past nine years but charges have still not been framed against him. He said the MCOCA charge against him has already been dropped and therefore he is entitled to get interim bail.

Purohit had told the Supreme Court that he has been caught in "political crossfire" and was languishing in jail for nine years without even charges being framed against him.

"My client has got himself caught in political crossfire. He has been in jail for nine years but he is still serving in the Indian Army. Since 2001, he has got numerous recommendations for blocking infiltration. From an unsung hero, he has been now called an incarcerated hero," Salve told the court.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for National Investigation Agency (NIA), said there was some evidence against Purohit, which would help in framing of charges.

Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on 29 September 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra.

A special MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) court had earlier ruled that the Anti-Terrorist Squad had wrongly applied this law against Thakur, Purohit and nine others.

The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because of a sizeable Muslim population there. It had named Thakur, Purohit and co-accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey as the key conspirators.

It had alleged that it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange for the explosive RDX, while Thakur owned the motorcycle, which was used in the blast.

Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised funds for the terror act, while conspiracy meetings were held at the Bhonsala Military School in Nasik, it had said.

Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni were the other accused.

Purohit accepted in the SC that he had attended meetings of Abhinav Bharat, a right wing organisation whose members were accused of conspiring in the Malegaon blast, but he had acted as an Army officer and passed on the information to his senior officers about the group's activities.