Mumbai: The National Investigations Agency (NIA) on Thursday told the Bombay High Court bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Nizamoodin Jamadar that it would 'bring down the number of witnesses considerably' in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
Special counsel Sandesh Patil appearing for the NIA, upon being asked, told the bench that till date the special court in Mumbai has examined around 181 witnesses.
"How many witnesses were listed?" Justice Shinde asked, to which Patil responded, "We had initially listed more than 400 witnesses. But now the numbers will be brought down considerably."
"I am told (by NIA officials) that over 100 more witnesses would be examined," Patil submitted.
The special prosecutor further told the judges that when there are witnesses like a panch witness it takes lesser time to examine.
The judges were hearing the appeals filed by BJP MP from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur, Col. Shrikant Purohit and also co-accused Sameer Kulkarni, all challenging the orders of the special court refusing to discharge them from the case.
Purohit through his counsel Shrikant Shivade has also challenged the sanction granted to prosecute him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
On Thursday, when the matter was called out, Shivade urged the judges to remit his plea back to the special court so that a fresh hearing could be held.
"Certain documents have been made available after the special court rejected my client's discharge plea. Thus, now the special court ought to go through these fresh documents and then decide my discharge plea. Hence, I pray for remitting the matter back," Shivade submitted.
At this, Patil contested, "We have no objection if he (Purohit) withdraws his plea simplicitor. But if he presses for quashing of the original order then we will have to argue the matter at length."
Shivade countered saying that his client's rights are being infringed. Having heard the submissions, Justice Shinde said the bench would hear the matter at length on July 19.