Mumbai: Samir Kulkarni, one of the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, on Monday opposed the application filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking an in-camera trial in the case. Such a trial would allow the accused, counsel and judge to be present during the court proceedings and bar media from covering it. “To the best of my knowledge, in no blast case has NIA ever sought for in-camera proceedings, except one in Ahmedabad court, which was rejected ultimately,” he told judge Vinod Padalkar in the special NIA court. “Even in previous instances like 1993 blast cases, media had reported responsibly. The reporting was done without hampering the prosecution's case,” he asserted.
Kulkarni also requested the court to take strict action against those intentionally delaying the proceedings. “I request you to provide accused 9 (Col Prasad Purohit) legal aid so that the time of the court is not wasted by his delaying tactics. Even in Kasab's case, the court had removed legal aid when the court felt that he was intentionally delaying the proceedings,” the accused added.
Last month, a group of journalists had moved the special NIA court seeking intervention in the NIA's application. Kin of the deceased had also moved the court in support of the application filed by the agency.
The Bombay High Court had, on August 29, disposed of a petition filed by Kulkarni seeking video-recording of the court proceedings. The High Court had directed the trial court to conduct the speedy trial as per the earlier directions issued by the Supreme Court and High Court in the case.
Besides Kulkarni, BJP lawmaker Pragya Singh Thakur, Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Ajay Rahirkar and Sudhakar Chaturvedi are also accused in the case. They have been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the Explosive Substances Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The charges include sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA and sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups) of the IPC. Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008. (ANI)