Malegaon: Accused urges ‘freedom of press’

Mumbai: One of the accused, Sameer Kulkarni, in the 2008 Malegaon blast case on Monday, advocated for the freedom of the press to report the proceedings in the matter.

The accused informed the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court that the media has been reporting "responsibly" and thus cannot be barred from covering the court proceedings in the case.

Kulkarni, argued in person and made submissions in response to the application filed by nine journalists from the city, who have questioned the NIA's move to seek "in-camera" trial.

An in-camera trial would mean that only the accused, their advocates and the prosecutor would attend the trial and no media representative or the public would be allowed inside the court and attend the trial.

In his brief submissions, Kulkarni said, "I am really grateful to the press as their reporting (of this case) has ensured that I am still alive. By virtue of this intervention plea, the journalists have just filed an application for their rights to report on this case and not to be a party in the trial."

"There have been instances earlier, like the 1993 blast case and several others, where the media has reported responsibly. It can be said that on several other occasions media's reporting did not hamper the prosecution's case," Kulkarni argued.

The accused further slammed the NIA for seeking in-camera proceedings of the trial citing the "sensitivity" of the matter. "The NIA has claimed that this case is much important and sensitive.

If this is the case, then why the trial was not completed within 6 months or less time? Why is it being going on for 11 years now?"

During the course of his submissions, Kulkarni further slammed Col. SP Purohit, who was the first one to seek a ban on media from covering the case.

Kulkarni informed the special court that Purohit has been indulging into delaying tactics from day one and has also been facing charges of tampering with the court's order an misusing the same.

He also questioned Purohit's apprehension of 'threat to his life'."He (Purohit) has on some occasions said he is fearful of his life because he is protected by army.

I would like to bring to the notice of the court that he was never harmed by anyone during his nine years term, in the Taloja jail and in fact he has resumed his work in the Indian army soon after his release," Purohit argued.

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