Staff Reporter

Anti-Terrorism Squad obtains a four-week stay of the order

Mumbai: In a major blow to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act court on Friday revoked the application of MCOCA in the Malegaon blast case of September 29, 2008.

However, the ATS has obtained a stay on the order, ATS chief K.P.S. Raghuvanshi told The Hindu: “We have obtained a stay of four weeks. We are going to challenge the order in the High Court.” The operative part of the order states that the case will be transferred to the sessions court (in Nashik), Mr. Raghuvanshi said.

Advocate Shrikant Shivade, who represents the alleged mastermind Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, told The Hindu that all the 11 accused, including Lt.Col. Purohit and sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, were discharged under MCOCA.

“If the court comes to the conclusion that MCOCA is not applicable, then all the accused can be discharged even if they have not applied for bail,” Mr. Shivade said.

He said the court’s order was in response to two bail petitions by the accused Purohit and Ajay Rahirkar.

MCOCA was applied in the case on the basis of two charge sheets against Rakesh Dattaram Dhawde, for his involvement in the Nanded and Parbhani blasts.

At the time of taking cognisance of the charges under MCOCA, Mr. Shivade held that the two charge sheets were filed after the Malegaon blast.

Secondly, cognisance on one of the charge sheets was taken after the application of MCOCA in the Malegaon case on November 20, 2008.

The prosecution had refuted this argument.

Corrections and Clarifications

The detail in a report "Court revokes MCOCA in Malegaon case" (August 1,2009, page 1) that all the 11 accused were discharged under MCOCA iscorrect. There are 11 accused and three absconders in the Malegaon case, asin the chargesheet. However, the chargesheet was filed against 11 accused.When MCOCA was revoked, only the accused were discharged under it. Theabsconders were not counted.

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