The Supreme Court’s grant of bail to Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit in the 2008 Malegaon serial blast case on Monday setting aside the Bombay high court order by which bail was denied to him, is a welcome but belated dispensing of justice. This, after a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court had ruled that the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had wrongly applied this law against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur (who was released on bail in April last), Purohit and nine others.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Purohit, had told the court that charges had not been framed against his client till date despite nine years having elapsed since his arrest. Salve had also pointed out that the charges under the MCOCA against Purohit had already been dropped. The apex court took these things into account in freeing Purohit on bail even though the National Investigation Agency opposed it. The apex court, however, imposed certain conditions while granting bail.
It is yet to be established that Purohit was involved in the blasts but that charges have still not been framed in the case is a shocking commentary on our judicial processes. Denying his involvement in the blasts, Purohit had told the court that even assuming that the charges — that he had supplied the bomb — were true, he would have been out of jail as the offence attracted a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment. There is indeed a need for some introspection as to why delivery of justice in the country is so utterly slow and why steps are not taken both at the level of the judiciary and governments to ensure speedy justice despite lip service being repeatedly paid to the dire need for reform.
Evidently, one reason why the case has dragged on so much is because the issue has got heavily politicised. While the erstwhile Congress-led UPA had been touting Malegaon blasts as a case of ‘Hindu terror’ ostensibly to win favour with the Muslim minority, the BJP has, if Congress veteran Digvijay Singh is to be believed been rather indulgent in regard to RSS activists against whom there are cases pending. Whether this charge is justified or not, when such a high-profile case takes so long in court, unwarranted aspersions inevitably follow. It would indeed be in the fitness of things if the judicial process in this case is completed without further avoidable loss of time. Whatever be the final judgment, the Congress, the BJP and others must desist from attributing motives to the judgment.