Newly-elected Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur on Monday failed to get an exemption from appearance in a special court this week in the 2008 Malegaon blast case in which she is an accused.
Special NIA Judge VS Padalkar rejected Thakur’s application for exemption in which she stated that she has to complete formalities relating to Parliament, saying her presence is necessary at this stage in the case.
The court directed Thakur to appear before it this week.
“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 court said.
It further said initially exemption from appearance was granted.
“However, now material witnesses are being called by the prosecution to adduce their evidence to prove their case against the accused persons. Hence, the presence of accused persons is certainly necessary,” the court said.
It added that the apex court has, in several orders in the past, emphasised the need for lower courts to decide matters where political leaders are involved expeditiously.
“In view of these, now that the accused applicant (Thakur) is a political leader and since the matter has been already expedited by the Supreme Court, this court feels that she should remain present in court at least once a week,” the court said.
In May this year, the court, which is conducting a trial against seven accused in the case, directed all of them to appear before it at least once a week.
It then said an exemption would be granted if cogent reasons were submitted.
The court had, two weeks ago, granted Thakur and two other accused – Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Sudhakar Chaturvedi – exemption for a week.
Currently, the court is recording the testimony of witnesses in the case.
Besides these three, the other accused in the case are Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi and Sameer Kulkarni, all of whom are presently out on bail.
Six people were killed and over 100 injured on September 29, 2008 when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon.
The accused persons are facing trial under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
They have been charged under UAPA Sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act).
They are also facing charges under IPC sections 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153(a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups).
The accused have also been charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act.