A special National Investigation Agency court on Monday rejected Bharatiya Janata Party MP Pragya Singh Thakur’s appeal for exemption from appearance in court this week in the Malegaon blasts case, PTI reported.
Thakur, the newly elected parliamentarian from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, said in her plea that she needs to complete formalities related to her election to Parliament. The Monsoon Session of Parliament will begin on June 17.
Special NIA Judge VS Padalkar rejected Thakur’s application, saying her presence is necessary in the case. “Grounds shown in the exemption application like to complete process of elections, enrolment and other factors cannot be accepted at all as time and again, the accused person [Thakur] has undertaken to remain present before this court but fails to do so,” the judge added.
The court pointed out that it had initially granted Thakur exemption from appearances. “However, now material witnesses are being called by the prosecution to adduce their evidence to prove their case against the accused persons,” it added. “Hence, the presence of accused persons is certainly necessary.”
The NIA judge said the Supreme Court had already issued orders to expedite the case. On May 17, the trial court had ordered all the accused, including Thakur, to be present before it once a week. However, on May 21, it granted Thakur and two others exemption from appearance. The BJP leader had urged the court to exempt her from appearing in court as the results of the Lok Sabha elections were set to be declared two days later.
Malegaon blasts case
On September 29, 2008, at least six people died in two blasts in Maharashtra’s Malegaon city. Radical Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat is suspected of carrying out the attacks. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad had filed a chargesheet against 14 right-wing extremists in the case.
The National Investigation Agency has submitted a list of 286 witnesses – including doctors, police officers and forensic experts – and more than 200 documents. Apart from Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit, the other accused are Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi and Sudhakar Chaturvedi. On October 30, the court charged the seven with terror conspiracy, murder and other related offences. They have pleaded not guilty.
The BJP gave a Lok Sabha ticket to Thakur from Bhopal, against Congress leader Digvijaya Singh because he reportedly coined the terms “Hindu terror” and “saffron terror”.