After the National Investigation Agency (NIA) gave a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur along with four other accused in the Malegaon blast case, special public prosecutor Avinash Rasal has said that he was kept in the dark about the charge sheet.
Rasal, who represented the NIA in the case, had earlier said he was considering to resign, but he later told news agency ANI that the NIA has apologised to him.
I am not resigning as NIA officials have said sorry and regretted.Matter is pacified now: NIA Special Public Prosecutor Avinash Rasal to ANI— ANI (@ANI_news) May 13, 2016
There have been a lot of twists and turns in the Malegaon blast probe while the tragedy has been described as a handiwork of people associated with Hindu right wing groups. The case was initially investigated by Joint Commissioner of Mumbai, ATS Hemant Karkare who was killed during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Before the NIA took over the case in 2011, ATS had booked 16 people but filed charge sheets on 20 January 2009 and 21 April 2011 against only 14 accused in a Mumbai court. Purohit and Pragya had moved several applications before the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court challenging the charge sheet and applicability of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case.
Shiv Narayan Kalsangra, Shyam Bhavarlal Sahu, Praveen Takkalki, Lokesh Sharma, and Dhan Singh Choudhury are the other five accused against whom charges have been dropped beside Sadhvi.
The agency also said during the investigation that it has been established that no offence is attached in this case under the Maharashtra Control of Crimes Act (MCOCA), in which any statement given before an SP level officer is admissible as an evidence.
"In furtherance of same, the confessional statements recorded under provisions of MCOC Act by ATS Mumbai have not been relied upon by the NIA in submitting the present Final report," the agency said in its charge sheet.
Lt Col Purohit and nine others will now be tried for charges including those of murder and conspiracy under the provisions of anti-terror laws UAPA, IPC, Arms Act and Explosives Substance Act. Director General of NIA Sharad Kumar told reporters today there was no dilution in the case.
Asked about the stand taken by the agency in the past when it had opposed the bail plea of Sadhvi and others even in the Supreme Court, he said, "Till our investigation was not complete, we had to go by the probe done by the ATS. Now that we have completed the investigations, we have submitted our final report charge sheet)". The charge sheet was today submitted by public prosecutor Geeta Godambe before Special Judge S D Tekale.
The Congress attacked the NIA decision to drop charges against Sadhvi Praygya and five others besides diluting the case against Lt Col and nine other accused. Senior leader Digvijay Singh said, "As I had predicted, BJP and RSS have started the process of saving the Sangh Activists involved in Terror Cases."
"Was the DG of NIA given extension for this?" he asked. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju dismissed the allegation saying the government does not interfere in the investigation by the agencies. "We allow agencies to work independently," he said.
- With inputs from PTI