Malegaon Blasts: SC rejects plea against Bombay HC order holding appeals of accused maintainable

The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a plea challenging a Bombay High Court order that held that appeals of various accused including Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit and Pragya Singh Thakur against framing of charges in the 2008 Malegaon blast case were “maintainable”.

The high court on March 5 had rejected the statutory plea of National Investigation Agency (NIA) that it cannot hear appeals of the accused under section 21 (1) the NIA Act as an order of framing of charges was an interlocutory or an interim order and not a final one.

Section 21 (1) of NIA Act reads: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code, an appeal shall lie from any judgement, sentence or order, not being an interlocutory order, of a special court to the high court both on facts and on law.”

It rejected the NIA’s plea that special court’s order of framing of charges against Purohit and others was an “interlocutory” one and hence, the appeals of accused under the specific provision were not maintainable before the high court.

“We are of the view that the preliminary objection raised by the counsel for NIA has no merit as the order impugned ... cannot be termed as an interlocutory order within the meaning of sub-section (1) of section 21 of the NIA Act,” the high court had said.

It had termed the appeals of Purohit, Thakur and Sameer Sharad Kulkarni against framing of charges as maintainable and said that it can hear them under provision.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Ashok Bhushan took note of the submissions of senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for Nisar Ahmed Sayed Bilal that the high court order needed to be set aside.

“Having heard counsel for the petitioner and on perusing the relevant material, we are not inclined to interfere. The special leave petitions are accordingly dismissed,” it said.

Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a powerloom town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

The special NIA court, on October 30 last year, had framed charges against Purohit, Thakur and five others for terror activities, criminal conspiracy and murder, among others in the case.

However, Purohit, Thakur and Kulkarni, were discharged from offences under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) and some crimes under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Purohit, Thakur and Kulkarni then moved the high court against the framing of charges where NIA took the stand that they cannot be heard under section 21 of the NIA Act.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 12:54:34 PM |

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