NIA-prosecutor spat intensifies: Salian quits fake currency case
The spat between the National Investigating Agency (NIA) and its Special Public Prosecutor, Rohini Salian, is getting uglier. It is likely to jeopardise not just the Malegaon blast case, in which right wing Hindu groups are accused, but also another case pertaining to fake currency, in which the NIA had invoked the provisions of anti-terrorism laws.
Salian, miffed with the NIA taking her off the 2008 Malegaon blast case, has now decided to pay back the agency. She has refused to represent the NIA in the crucial fake currency case where six accused, convicted under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), are seeking bail.
In 2009, the NIA went to town after a special judge convicted the six accused, after they were found circulating fake notes. According to the public prosecutor, this was the first case in which possession and circulation of fake Indian counterfeit notes was termed an 'act of terrorism'.
Upset with NIA asking her to go 'soft' in the Malegaon case, Salian wanted to be out of the other case too.
"I have informed the NIA that I will not appear in the fake currency note case," Salian said, adding, "I was informed, orally, to go slow in the Malegaon blast case. I too have informed the agency verbally about my decision. Had the NIA given me in writing, I too would have informed about my exit in black and white."
Asked whether she has conveyed the decision to the NIA chief or any senior official, the public prosecutor said she had informed the NIA officer who had approached her to go slow in the Malegaon blast case.
With the accused seeking bail from the Bombay High Court, the case is positioned at a crucial juncture. Anti Terrorism Squad officials state that it would not be right to comment on the case, as the matter is sub-judice and the case is now being handled by the NIA.
Salian refuses to represent NIA in fake currency case, where 6 men convicted are seeking bail
However, one senior ATS official, on the condition of anonymity, said: "The public prosecutor quitting the case halfway is not good for any investigating agency or case. In the fake currency case, the impact may not be much as the trial is over and those arrested have been convicted by the court."
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani added: "It all depends on the skills of the new public prosecutor."
The biggest challenge before the new appointee would be to study and understand the entire case in a short span of time.
In 2009, the Maharashtra ATS had arrested the accused from South Mumbai. The preliminary investigations were carried out by the ATS, but the case was later taken over by the NIA. The charge-sheet filed in the case claimed that the accused were trying to destabilise the Indian economy with the intention of assisting terrorist activities.
Special NIA judge Prithviraj Chavan sentenced all the six accused - Abdul Shaikh, Mohammed Aziul, Ravi Dhiren Gosh, Nooruddin Bari, Mohammed Samad and Aizul Shaik to life imprisonment.
The accused were booked under the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Immediately after the conviction, while speaking to the media, Salian had stated that "terrorist acts are not always a blood crime", and this was the first case that had been covered under the UAPA as the notes were printed in Pakistan.