Mumbai: 2008 Malegaon blast: No. of witnesses will be reduced, says NIA

The National Investigations Agency (NIA), on Thursday, told the Bombay High Court (HC) that it would reduce the number of witnesses in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

Appearing for the NIA, special counsel Sandesh Patil told the bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Nizamoodin Jamadar that till date the special court in Mumbai has examined around 181 witnesses.

“How many witnesses were listed?” Justice Shinde asked Patil; to which he responded, “We had initially listed more than 400 witnesses. But now the number will be brought down considerably.”

“I am told by the NIA officials that over 100 more witnesses will be examined,” Patil said. 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 co-accused Sameer Kulkarni. They had challenged the orders of the special court that had refused to discharge them from the case.

Purohit, through his counsel Shrikant Shivade, 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 can be heard. “Certain documents have been made available after the special court rejected my client’s discharge plea. Now, the special court ought to go through these fresh documents and decide my discharge plea. Hence, I pray to remit the matter back,” Shivade submitted.

At this, Patil said, “We have no objection if Purohit withdraws his plea. But if he presses to quash the original order, then we will have to argue the matter at length.” Shivade countered saying that his client’s rights are being infringed. The matter will come up for hearing on July 19.

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