Mumbai: For the third time, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed the bail application moved by Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Prasad Purohit, the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. The HC held that it cannot ignore the ‘grave and serious’ charges against Purohit and that there is more than sufficient ‘prima facie’ material against him.
A division bench presided over by Justice Ranjit More and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi held that there are reasonable grounds for believing the accusations against Purohit as true.
The bench considered the ‘conduct’ of Purohit post to the arrest of Sadhvi in October 2008. The bench emphasized on the ‘telephonic’ conversations between Purohit and his associate and another co-accused Major Ramesh Upadhayay wherein he reportedly spoke about Sadhvi’s arrest and the need of engaging a lawyer. “The conduct of the appellant (Purohit) after Sadhvi’s arrest reflects that he was under pressure and tension. This prima facie, shows the guilt in his mind and his active participation in crime. One cannot ignore these intercepted telephonic conversations,” the bench said.
The bench also rejected the argument that Purohit cannot be charged with sections pertaining to ‘terrorist act’ as neither was his organisation ‘Abhinav Bharat’ nor he was ever in contact of a terrorist gang. The bench said, “If one has regard to the nature of the allegations against Purohit for using the bomb or explosive substance, with intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India and with intent to strike terror in the Muslim community, it falls within the definition of ‘terrorist act’. Therefore, the argument that the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are not attracted, cannot be accepted.”
The bench noted the fact that six people were killed and nearly 100 were injured in the blast. “The charge levelled against Purohit is serious and grave one. It is of waging war against the integrity and unity of the State and that too, by the violent means like exploding bomb. The gravity of the charges levelled against Purohit cannot be ignored,” the bench said.
The bench even trashed the ground ‘delay’ in the commencement of trial, cited by Purohit for bail. The bench held that mere delay cannot be a ground for releasing him especially when the delay was on account of factor, which were not in the hands of the prosecution.
Cannot accept that he was Covert Military Officer: HC
In a major setback to Col. Purohit, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to accept his contention of being a ‘Covert Military Officer’ to combat growing Jihadi groups in the nation. The HC even refused to accept Purohit’s claim that he kept his seniors in the army, in loop about his activities. The HC even refused to rely on the ‘Court of Inquiry’ report submitted by the Union Ministry of Defence, that defended Purohit.
A division bench headed by Justice Ranjit More considered the statements of prosecution witnesses who have reportedly stated that Purohit always spoke of taking ‘revenge’ from Muslim Community for their atrocities on Hindus. The bench also noted that Purohit wanted his organisation ‘Abhinav Bharat’ to be a group of ‘extremists.’
The bench said, “One cannot ignore the intercepted telephonic conversations (of Purohit and others) which do not, prima facie, support his contention that he was acting under the ‘Covert Military Operation’ and was also working in discharge of his duties.”
“If it was so, he would have immediately contacted his superior officers in the Army or, at-least, appraised the Police, who were investigating the case, about his role. At-least, he would not have any apprehension of being arrested in the case,” the bench added.