Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court
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Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, has filed a fresh petition in the Bombay High Court seeking that the charges against him be quashed.

Purohit was doing his job as a military intelligence officer and was "framed" in the case, his lawyer and former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the high court on Friday.

The petition also contended that the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the prosecuting agency, did not seek a prior sanction under the Code of Criminal Procedure to prosecute him though he was a serving army officer.

Arguing before a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik, Rohatgi said that Purohit had been working for the Army's military intelligence unit.

He attended conspiracy meetings before the 2008 Malegaon blast while "discharging his duties" as an intelligence officer, the senior counsel said.

Hence the NIA should have sought a prior sanction under section 197 of the CrPC to prosecute him, Rohatgi argued. Section 197 makes it mandatory to obtain a sanction from the government before public servants are prosecuted.

The Army reinstated Purohit in 2017 after the Supreme Court granted him bail, Rohatgi pointed out, adding that the apex court had noted in bail order that Purohit attended conspiracy meetings as part of discharging his duties.

"His job was to infiltrate meetings of religious fanatics and report to the Army. He was framed in the case and spent eight years in jail until the SC granted him bail," Rohatgi said.

The NIA, in its affidavit opposing Purohit's plea, has claimed that while attending the conspiracy meetings, he was not working for the Army, so no sanction was required for his prosecution.

The trial court as well as the high court had in the past rejected his plea seeking discharge, and a criminal appeal seeking similar relief is already pending before the high court, so he can not file a fresh plea, the NIA said.

The high court granted Purohit's lawyers time to respond to the NIA's affidavit and posted the matter for hearing on September 23.

Purohit had argued earlier too that he attended the blast conspiracy meetings in Faridabad and Bhopal while doing his job as an intelligence officer with his superiors' permission.

Six people were killed and 100 injured when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque at Malegaon in north Maharashtra on September 29, 2008. As per the investigators, the bike belonged to co-accused and BJP MP Pragya Thakur.

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