Mumbai: A special NIA court on Wednesday declined to bar Malegaon Blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur from contesting the Lok Sabha election, saying it does not have the power to do so and the decision should be taken by the Election Commission.
“In the ongoing elections, this court does not have any legal powers to prohibit anyone from contesting elections. It is job of electoral officers to decide. This court can't stop the accused number 1 from contesting elections. This application is negated,” judge VS Padalkar said.
Thakur, a prime accused in the 2008 blasts that led to the death of six people and wounded over a 100, has been fielded by the BJP from Bhopal to take on senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh. Her candidature is being seen as an attempt to further polarise the election.
Nisar Bilal, whose son Sayyed Ahmed had died in the terror attack, had moved the court last week, urging the court to stop her from contesting as the trial against her is still pending.
Thakur is currently out on bail on health grounds, a fact pointed out by the petitioner, who argued that she has also not appeared before the court due to her ill-health, but is still campaigning in Bhopal.
The National Investigation Agency, in its reply to the plea, had said that it had not found sufficient evidence to prosecute her in the case, and it would not want to comment on whether she should contest elections as that is outside its jurisdiction and unrelated to the case.
Thakur had dismissed the petition as “frivolous” and “filed for the sake of publicity”, and told the court that there was no provision in law that could stop her from contesting the polls. The court had last year in October framed terror and murder charges against her and rejected her plea to discharge her from the case.
The BJP has defended its decision to give a ticket to the blast accused, with party leaders like its chief Amit Shah saying that she was framed in false cases by those who had coined the term "Hindu terror" and indulged in vote bank politics.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said that fielding Thakur was a symbolic answer to all those who labeled the “rich Hindu civilization as terrorist” and asserted that “this symbol will prove costly for the Congress”.