Bombay High Court Allows Malegaon Victim's Kin to Intervene in Purohit's Plea
File photo of Bombay High Court
The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed Nisar Ahmed Bilal, father of a victim who died in the 2008 Malegaon blast, to intervene in the plea filed by accused Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, seeking that the charges against him be quashed. A bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik had heard Bilal's counsel B A Desai, and Purohit's counsel Neela Gokhale on Wednesday and closed the arguments for order on November 23.
Advocate Desai had urged the bench to implead his client as a party to the case and admit the intervention application since the victim had a right to be heard. He had said that Bilal was also an intervening party in the trial in the case pending hearing before a special NIA court in the city.
In his plea, Bilal said that he had lost his son in the blast and therefore, he was an "aggrieved party" in the case, who deserved to be heard. Advocate Gokhale had, however, opposed the application filed by Bilal.
She argued that Purohit had sought that charges against him be quashed since the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had failed to get prior sanction under section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to prosecute him. Since the plea was on the limited procedural ground of the sanction, it did not warrant any intervention by the victims, she told the bench.
In September this year, Purohit had filed a plea in the high court, seeking that all charges in the case against him be quashed. He said that the NIA, the prosecuting agency in the case, did not seek prior sanction under the CrPC.
Therefore, the courts couldn't have taken cognisance of the charges against him, he said in his plea. During the first hearing on his plea in September, Purohit's counsel and former attorney general Mukul Rohtagi had told the bench that Purohit had been working for the Indian Army's military intelligence unit.
He said that Purohit had attended conspiracy meetings before the 2008 Malegaon blast as part of "discharging his duties" as a military intelligence officer. Therefore, the NIA should have sought prior sanction under section 197 of the CrPC to prosecute him.
Section 197 of the CrPC lays down the procedure for prosecution of public servants and mandates that a prior sanction be sought from the government. Rohtagi had further said that the Army had reinstated Purohit in 2017 after the Supreme Court granted bail to him and that the apex court had recorded in its bail order that Purohit had been attending the meetings as part of discharging his duties.
The NIA had, however, opposed Purohit's plea. In an affidavit filed in court in September, the central agency had said that in attending the conspiracy meetings, Purohit was not working for the Army, and therefore, no sanction under 197 of the CrPC was required for his prosecution.
Purohit was arrested in the case in 2009. Six people were killed and 100 others injured when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon on September 29, 2008.
According to the NIA, the two-heeler belonged to Purohit's co-accused and BJP MP Pragya Thakur.