After 9 years, 2008 Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi gets bail

After 9 years, 2008 Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi gets bail

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, one of the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, nearly nine years after her arrest.

"The appeal filed by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur is allowed... the applicant is directed to be released on bail on a surety of Rs five lakh," said a division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi.

The court also said that prima facie, there was no case made out against the Sadhvi.

The bail comes 11 months after the National Investigation Agency had granted a 'clean chit' to her in May 2016.

However, the court rejected an appeal filed by another co-accused in the same case, former army officer Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, challenging a lower court rejecting his bail plea.

Sadhvi's lawyer J.P. Mishra said that he requested the court for a month's time to organise the bail amount and surety which the court has accepted.

"In the meantime, while we organise it, we shall get her released by this week from her continuous custody, since her arrest on October 23, 2008," Mishra told IANS.

The investigating agencies had said earlier that the terror strike was carried out allegedly by the right-wing group, Abhinav Bharat and a total of 11 accused, including Sadhvi and Purohit were arrested.

Shortly afterwards, a NGO Jamiat Ulama-E-Maharashtra announced that it would challenge the bail granted to the Sadhvi before the Supreme Court.

"The JUeM on behalf of the victims of the blast intervened and opposed the bail of Sadhvi and Purohit. We have been providing legal assistance to the victims and shall now challenge the bail order in the Supreme Court," the NGO said in a statement.

At least six persons were killed in the blast in Malegaon, a Muslim-dominated powerloom town in Nashik district on September 29, 2008.

At the time of her arrest, the Sadhvi was charged for allegedly planning the terror blast and providing a two-wheeler that was used to plant the bomb.

Nearly eight years later after the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) produced videos and transcripts purportedly showing Sadhvi as part of conspiracy meetings for the 2008 Malegaon blasts, both the ATS and NIA backtracked on it before the Bombay High Court.

In May 2016, the NIA filed a supplementary chargesheet in the case dropped charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Sadhvi and five others after which she filed for bail.

However, the bail plea was rejected by the NIA Court in June 2016 following which she appealed in the Bombay High Court contending that the NIA Court had considered only the ATS chargesheet and not the NIA chargesheet before rejecting her bail.

In her fresh plea, she contended before the high court that her health had been steadily deteriorating since her arrest in October 2008, and she had become 'infirm' due to numerous hardships she underwent during the probe by ATS.