The Centre today rubbished allegations in the Supreme Court that sacked Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian was asked to "go soft" on the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case.
"The main allegation is that the prosecutor was asked to go soft. I myself have examined the papers. There is no truth in it," Attorney General Mukul Roghatgi, appearing for the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), told the court.
Rohatgi then sought a week's time to file a counter affidavit on behalf of the government and the agency on the PIL which has alleged that Government was exerting pressure on the SPP Rohini Salian to "go soft" on the accused.
Earlier on September 11, the apex court had sought a response from the Centre and the agency on the PIL.
The PIL, filed by social activist Harsh Mander, has accused NDA government of trying to interfere with the functioning of the prosecutor in the case by exerting "pressure" on her to "go soft" on the accused. It alleged that the executive was attempting to influence the judicial system.
It has alleged that NIA officials had pressured the erstwhile SPP "presumably" under instructions from their "political masters".
Salian, who was SPP in the case, had alleged that an NIA officer had told her to go soft on the accused. She had also claimed that the same officer had told her that she would be replaced. Salian is no longer on NIA's panel of lawyers.
The petition has sought the apex court's intervention to ensure a fair trial as there were reasons to "credibly fear" that "executive is attempting to influence the judicial system to cave in to the pressure exerted by it in all matters, including including affording protection to right-wing extremists who sympathise with its ideology".
The PIL also sought direction to the Centre to appoint an SPP to conduct "fair" trial and constitute a Special Investigating Team of CBI to probe the alleged actions of NIA officials who allegedly pressurised Salian.
The high-profile accused in the case include Lt Col S P Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.
The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected for the blasts because of its sizeable Muslim population. It named Pragya Singh Thakur, Purohit and another accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey, as the key conspirators.
The charge sheet had alleged it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange for RDX, while Pragya 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 Bhonsala Military School in Nasik, according to charge sheet.
Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni were the other accused.
The blast on September 29, 2008 had left four dead and nearly 80 injured.