Arguments on bail plea of accused conclude; next hearing on March 5

A special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court here on Friday asked defence lawyers of the nine accused in the Malegaon 2006 blasts for an authenticated copy of Swami Aseemanand's confession statement by February 7.

Arguments on the bail application of the accused concluded on Friday and the court posted the next hearing for March 5. The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is further investigating the case in the light of the confession, filed a reply in the court opposing the bail plea.

Defence lawyer Mubin Solkar argued that the accused persons be released on bail “pending trial.” Reading from a non-certified copy of Swami Aseemanand's statement, he contended, “This is a very startling circumstance where an un-retracted confession before a magistrate has averments stating these blasts [Malegaon 2006], were carried out by other persons. [Aseemanand] categorically narrated facts preceding the blasts and those thereafter. This confession reveals the conspiracy, meetings, execution, formation of teams and carrying out of the blast.”

It can thus be “safely said that the present [accused] cannot be guilty of the offences,” he contended.

Mr. Solkar said the case was that the government had transferred the case to the CBI on a complaint against the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) about targeting a particular community. The government was not “satisfied with the genuineness, correctness and truthfulness of the investigation by the ATS,” he said.

Alleging that the CBI had not done a proper investigation into the role of each of the accused, Mr. Solkar said the agency merely filed a skeletal 48-page supplementary charge sheet which did not give any findings.

He said that in the CBI's reply the agency had not expressed any apprehension of any prejudice to be caused to the case if bail were to be granted.

“Today, we are not seeking discharge. We want liberty to be restored to us. We are ready to face trial. [The accused] have been in custody for over three years. Their further incarceration will not be justified [as] today there are no reasonable grounds to believe that they are guilty of the offences,” Mr. Solkar said.

The CBI said the accused had not stated any valid ground for their release. CBI prosecutor Raja Thakre said the bail application stated nothing that could “negate” the finding of the ATS or the CBI. In the absence of an authenticated copy of the confession, the copy produced by the defence was “devoid of sanctity.”