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Malegaon Blast Victim Moves Bombay HC to Intervene in Lt Col Purohit's Plea

File photo of Bombay High Court

File photo of Bombay High Court

Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Purohit, opposed Bilal's application. Rohatgi argued that Purohit had sought for quashing of charges against him as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) failed to get a prior sanction under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to prosecute him.

A victim of the 2008 Malegaon blast case has approached the Bombay High Court for permission to intervene in a plea filed by accused Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit wherein he has sought quashing of charges against him. A bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik heard victim Nisar Ahmed Bilal's advocate B A Desai on Tuesday and posted the application for a detailed hearing on November 25.

Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Purohit, opposed Bilal's application. Rohatgi argued that Purohit had sought for quashing of charges against him as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) failed to get a prior sanction under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to prosecute him.

Since the plea was on the procedural ground of the sanction, it did not warrant any intervention by the victims, Rohatgi told the bench. 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.

Advocate Desai, however, 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. In his plea, Bilal said he had lost his son in the Malegaon blast and therefore, he was an "aggrieved party" in the case who deserved to be heard.

He also said he was an intervenor in the trial in the case that is going on before a special NIA court in the city. In September this year, Purohit filed a pleain the HC seeking that all charges in the case against him be quashed.

He said the NIA, the prosecuting agency in the case, did not seek prior sanction under the CrPC to prosecute him. Therefore, the court couldn't have taken cognisance of the charges against him, he said in his plea.

During the first hearing on his plea in September, advocate Rohatgi also told the bench that Purohit had been working for the Indian Army's military intelligence unit. He said 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. Rohatgi also said the Army reinstated Purohit in 2017 after the Supreme Court granted him bail.

He further said the Supreme Court had recorded in its bail order that Purohit had been attending the meetings as part of discharging his duties. However, the NIA had opposed Purohit's plea.

In an affidavit filed in the court in September, the agency said 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 town of Maharashtra's Nashik district on September 29, 2008. As per the NIA, the bike belonged to Purohit's co- accused and BJP MP Pragya Thakur.


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