Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to “clear all hurdles” in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and ensure that the trial proceeds “smoothly”. A bench of Justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari noted that over 20 applications and appeals had been filed in the high court by various parties on varied grounds in the case. As a result, the court had to sift through voluminous paperwork and over 4,000 exhibits, it said.

“How’s the court expected to clear these appeals in time if parties keep filing applications. We are certain most of these applications and pleas might even be frivolous,” the bench said. “As a prosecuting agency, it is your (NIA) duty to ensure that all hurdles are removed and the trial in the case goes on smoothly,” it said.

The bench was hearing an appeal filed by Sameer Kulkarni, a co-accused in the case, challenging a 2017 order of a special NIA court, which permitted the use of photocopies of statements of witnesses and confessions of accused as secondary evidence in the case.

During a previous hearing, the bench led by Justice Oka had observed the special court should not have allowed the use of photocopies since there was no evidence to prove that they were authentic copies of the original, certified statements.
On Tuesday, the bench reiterated that the use of photocopies without any verification was wrong in law.

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