A special NIA court in Mumbai on Wednesday dropped all charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Lt Colonel Purohit and two others in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. However, both Sadhvi Pragya and Purohit will will face trial under an anti-terror law as the court junked their applications for discharge.
The court discharged three accused – Shyam Sahu, Shivnarayan Kalsangra and Praveen Takalki – from the case. Apart from Sadhvi and Purohit, the accused who will now face trial are: Sudhakar Dwivedi, retired Major
Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Ajay Rahirkar.
The court said the accused persons will face trial under Sections 16 (committing a terror act) and 18 (criminal conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and Sections 120(b) (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 326 (intentionally causing harm to others) of the IPC.
“The UAPA sections 17 (raising funds for a terrorist organisation or a terrorist attack), 20 (being part of a terrorist organisation) and 23 (aiding somebody who is part ofa terrorist organisation) have been dropped against all accused,” PTI quoted special NIA judge S D Tekale as saying. The formal framing of charges will be done on January 15, the court said and asked all the accused to be present.
Six persons were killed and nearly 100 others injured when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle had exploded in Malegaon town of Nashik district, about 270 km from Mumbai, on September 29, 2008.
Sadhvi Pragya, 44 , was arrested in October that year and Purohit, 44 , the next month and both were charged with plotting the blasts as part of what the prosecution said a plan by Hindu right wing group Abhinav Bharat.
In April this year, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, holding that prima facie no case was made out against her. Four months later, the Supreme Court granted bail to Lt Colonel Purohit.