[The motorcycle used in 2008 Malegaon blast was traced to Sadvhi Pragya SIngh Thakur and herr consequent arrest. (ummid.com photo)]
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court Tuesday granted bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Takhur, accused of plotting the 2008 Malegaon blast. Sadhvi was the first person to be arrested in the case after the investigating agencies got the evidence that the motorcycle used in the attack belonged to her.
The high court however rejected the bail application of Lt Col Prasad Purohit.
In the ruling pronounced today, the court directed Sadhvi Pragya to surrender her passport to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and not to tamper with the evidence. She has also been asked to report to the NIA court as and when required.
"The appeal filed by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur is allowed. The applicant (Sadhvi) is directed to be released on bail on a surety of Rs 5 lakh. The appeal filed by Prasad Purohit stands dismissed," said a division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi.
"We have said in our order that prima facie there is no case made out against Sadhvi," Justice More said while refusing to stay today's order, according to PTI.
The families of the victims, who had filed an intervening application challenging Sadhvi Pragya's bail plea, today sought from the court a stay on its order so that they can appeal against it in the Supreme Court.
The 2008 Malegaon blast was the first case where a "Hindu terror group" had been named. It pertains to a blast that took place in Bhikku Chowk, Malegaon on September 29, 2008 in the month of Ramadan and two days before Eid, leaving eight dead and injuring more than 80 people.
The case was first investigated by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad under the late Hemant Karkare.
The trail led first to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur after a golden LML Freedom bike parked outside the blast site was found to have been allegedly registered under her name. Her arrest was followed by the arrest of Colonel Purohit, who was alleged to have provided the RDX for the blasts, and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay.
The NIA took over the case on the direction of Home Ministry on April 13, 2011. Fourteen people were chargesheeted in the case including Pragya Singh Thakur, Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Sameer Kulkarni, Rakesh Dhawade, Sudhakar Dwivedi aka Dayanand Pandey, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Pravin Takalki, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Ajay Rahirkar, Jagdish Mhatre. Two accused – Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange – are still absconding.
The NIA, while not objecting the bail of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, opposed Purohit's bail plea and argued that there was prima facie evidence in the form of audio and video recordings, call data records and witness statements that prove his involvement in the case.
According to NIA, Purohit had taken active part in the conspiracy meetings and even agreed to arrange explosives to be used in the blast.
Purohit had argued that the NIA was "selective" in exonerating some accused persons and that the agency had made him a "scapegoat" in the case.