2008 Malegaon blast case: Will seek protection for 38 ‘prime’ witnesses; NIA to HC

Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) informed the Bombay High Court on Friday, it would soon be filing an application seeking protection for 38 of its ‘most important and sensitive’ witnesses in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

Seven right-wing Hindu extremists, including parliamentarian Pragya Thakur and Lt Col SP Purohit are prime accused in the case pertaining to the blasts which killed six people on September 29, 2008, in Malegaon city.

The NIA, through its counsel Sandesh Patil, told a bench of Justices Indrajit Mahanty and Anant Badar, it would file an application before a lower court to grant protection to 38 of its prime witnesses.

“Of the total 475, we have truncated the testimonies of 186 witnesses. Of these, 38 are most important and sensitive and thus we will be filing an application before the lower court to grant protection to these witnesses,” Patil submitted before the bench.

Patil further said, “We will also seek in-camera recording of the statements of these 38 witnesses in the courtroom.”

The submissions were made in response to a petition filed by Lt Col Purohit, who demanded the non-truncated statements of these 186 witnesses. This comes after the NIA withheld the identities and testimonies of these witnesses, claiming they were the most sensitive witnesses.

In his submissions, Patil further said that the NIA was ready to hand over the non-truncated statements of the 186 witnesses minus the 38 sensitive ones. Having heard the submissions, the judges posted the matter for further hearing till two weeks.

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