Mumbai: The Bombay High Court Monday asked the National Investigating Agency (NIA) how it and the trial court verified the authenticity of photocopies of some documentary evidence relied upon in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. A bench of justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari asked the NIA to inform the high court about it on Wednesday. The bench was hearing a bunch of appeals filed by Sameer Kulkarni, one of the accused in the case.
Kulkarni has challenged the decision of the special NIA court permitting the probe agency to bring photocopies of missing statements of witnesses and confessions of the accused on record, and lead evidence in its support. In January 2017, the special NIA court had permitted the use of photocopies after the probe agency submitted that some files containing original witness statements and confessions of accused under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Section 164 had gone missing and could not be traced.
The agency pleaded since the statements were not traceable and the case proceedings were conducted on a regular basis, the secondary copies of the original statements be taken on record. The court then permitted the use of such photocopies as secondary evidence. Kulkarni, however, said in his appeal the special court should not have permitted the use of photocopies since there was no evidence to prove that the photocopied documents were authentic copies of the original statements. The bench also asked, “How do you (NIA) or the special court know that these are copies of the original statements? How did you verify that?”
In October last year, the special court had framed charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and some other accused in the case. Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from here in North Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.