Pragya says pendency of trial does not bar her from contesting election

NIA says it has no jurisdiction over the matter as it is related to the Election Commission of India.

Updated - April 23, 2019 09:28 pm IST

Published - April 23, 2019 03:36 pm IST - Mumbai

Malegaon blast case accused Pragya Singh Thakur. File

Malegaon blast case accused Pragya Singh Thakur. File

BJP candidate in the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency and main accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case Pragya Singh Thakur told a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Tuesday that pendency of the trial was no bar for her from contesting the election.

She was replying to a plea filed by Nisar Ahmed Sayyed Bilal, father of Sayyed Azhar Nisar Ahmed, who was killed in the September 29, 2008 blast that also claimed five other lives.

Mr. Bilal contended that Ms. Pragya should be restricted from contesting the election as she was still facing trial for a terrorist act and a petition challenging her bail was pending before the Supreme Court.

Ms. Thakur, however, told the court that there was no provision in the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which disqualifies a candidate against whom a criminal case was pending from contesting elections. She cited the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, under which she had filed an affidavit disclosing all the cases pending against her. “Criminal jurisprudence clearly says that unless a person is convicted, he shall be deemed to be innocent,” she said.

Responding to Mr. Bilal’s allegation about her non-attendance in court, Ms. Thakur attributed it to her ill health. After she was released on bail, she underwent an operation in Ram Manohar Lohia Medical Institute, Lucknow, for breast cancer. She said she had been taking treatment at Ayurvedic Hospital in Bangalore, Lucknow and Bhopal.

In her reply, the 49-year-old also mentions that she was unable to walk and was brought on a wheelchair and that can be traced from her interview given to ‘Aap ki Adalat’ telecast on October 20, 2018. She also says that only because Mr. Bilal has challenged the cancellation of her bail in the Supreme Court it does not restrain her from contesting elections. She wants the application to be dismissed with exemplary costs.

The NIA on the other hand said the matter relates to the Election Commission and it has no jurisdiction or say in the matter. In its 4-page reply, the Central agency said it had given her clean chit and said, “had recommended in the 2016 chargesheet that there is no evidence to prosecute Pragya Singh Thakur".

The trial is being conducted by special judge Vinod Padalkar and victims in the case are testifying in the case.

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