The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from questioning sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in the case of murder in 2007 of the former RSS worker, Sunil Joshi.
A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad stayed the May 17 order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jabalpur permitting the agency to interrogate her.
The order came on her special leave petition, challenging the NIA’s power to investigate the offences/crimes allegedly committed before the NIA Act came into force (on December 31, 2008).
The Bench issued notice to the Union government, the NIA and others and directed that the matter be tagged along with a similar petition filed by Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
On an application from the NIA, the NIA Court in Bhopal allowed the agency on April 12 to interrogate the sadhvi in jail. The High Court also permitted such interrogation, disposing of her appeal. She moved the Supreme Court against this order.
Joshi was murdered at Dewas on December 29, 2007. The Madhya Pradesh police registered a case against the sadhvi and others, but the NIA took over the probe later.
In her appeal, the sadhvi raised these points:
Whether the NIA has the power to investigate the offences that were allegedly committed before the NIA Act came into force, since the Act nowhere specifies that it will be applicable with retrospective effect;
Whether an accused could be interrogated repeatedly by the investigation agency over the very facts and accusations merely on the ground of a change in the investigating agency, especially when a charge sheet was filed after a thorough probe and the case was committed to a competent court for framing of charges;
Whether an order allowing interrogation of a person/accused by an investigating agency or further probe could be challenged under Section 21 of the NIA Act;
And whether registration of a case afresh by the NIA, not related to the scheduled offence and investigation thereto, is sustainable in law, especially since the case was posed to the competent court for framing of charge after the final report was filed.
She prayed that the impugned order be quashed and an interim stay granted on its operation.