Nearly nine yrs after, SC grants bail to Lt Col Shrikant Purohit
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail to Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who has been languishing in jail for almost nine years for his alleged role in 2008 Malegaon blast case, observing there were contradictions in the charge sheets filed by different investigating agencies.
The top court also said it cannot deny the relief to him merely because "sentiments of community was against him".
Six people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra.
The apex court said there were "material contradictions" in the charge sheets filed by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), Mumbai and the National Investigating Agency (NIA), which are required to be tested at the time of trial, and it cannot pick or choose one version over the other.
A bench of Justices R K Agrawal and Abhay Mohan Sapre, while taking note of variations in the charge sheets filed by Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) Mumbai and NIA, said that fresh ground for consideration of Purohit's bail plea was made out, as at the relevant time, he was an Intelligence officer of the Indian Army.
"Liberty of a citizen is undoubtedly important but this is to balance with the security of the community. A balance is required to be maintained between the personal liberty of the accused and the investigational rights of the agency. It must result in minimum interference with the personal liberty of the accused and the right of the agency to investigate the case," the bench said.
The court set aside the April 25 verdict of the Bombay High Court denying bail to Purohit, but imposed certain restrictions while granting him relief after he spent eight years and eight months in jail.
Meanwhile, the Army will review his suspension from service after examining the court order, army sources said on Monday.