Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya won't be tried under MCOCA
NEW DELHI: A special National Investigating Agency (NIA) court on Thursday dropped stringent MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) charges against duty army officer Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and other accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
The court, however, rejected the plea to discharge Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya, Sameer Kulkarni, Ramesh Upadhyay and Sudhakar Dwivedi from the case. New charges will be framed against them under the IPC and section 18 (criminal conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Rakesh Dhawde and Jagdish Mhatre will face trial only under the Arms Act.
The court also discharged accused Pravin Takalki, Shyamlal Sahu and Shivnarayan Kalsangra from the blast case.
As most of the accused are out on bail, all previous bonds and sureties will continue, the court said in its order.
The court has asked all the accused persons to appear before it on January 15 for the formal framing of charges against them.
Last week, the court dismissed the pleas filed by accused Lt Col Purohit and Sameer Kulkarni, challenging their prosecution. The petitions were filed by the accused, challenging the sanction of prosecution under provisions of the UAPA.
Both Purohit and Kulkarni have been out on bail since August 22, 2017, after the Supreme Court quashed a Bombay high court injunction denying bail to the two accused. Sadhvi Pragya was granted bail in February this year.
On September 29, 2008, a bomb strapped to a bike near Bhikku Chowk in Malegaon killed six people and wounded 101 others.
The same year, the Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Purohit along with nine others for the blast conspiracy.
However, in April 2011, the NIA took over the probe from the Maharashtra ATS.