A special National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai on Thursday rejected Bhopal MP and 2008 Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Singh Thakur’s plea seeking exemption from appearing before it once a week in connection with the case, The Indian Express reported. However, the court allowed her to skip proceedings for the day.

Thakur had cited ill health, distance, security, requirement of attending Parliament daily and her life as a religious leader as reasons for exemption. When Thakur’s lawyers said the Bharatiya Janata Party has issued a whip from time to time on attendance in Parliament, the court said obeying the party and attending Parliament were necessary. No papers were submitted to substantiate her claims.

Thakur had skipped the hearing on June 6 citing poor health. However, the same day, she was spotted at an event in Bhopal marking the birth anniversary of medieval Rajput king Maharana Pratap.

Thakur’s lawyer had then told the court that she was suffering from high blood pressure and was not in a condition to travel from Bhopal to Mumbai. The court had granted an exemption but directed Thakur to be present the next day or “face consequences”. It was the second time that week that the BJP MP had failed to appear in court. The bench noted that Thakur’s medical documents were not submitted along with her petition.

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 before it 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”.