New Delhi: Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has said his government will move the Supreme Court if need be to ensure that the MCOCA charges against the Malegaon blast accused are not dropped.
"We will go to the Supreme Court to have MCOCA slapped in the Malegaon blast case. A terrorist is terrorist," Chavan said.
A special court had ordered the dropping of the stringent MCOCA charges on Friday saying that applying of the charges against the main accused - including Sadhvi Pragya and Col Purohit - was incorrect. The court had said that under MCOCA, at least one of the accused must be charged in two previous cases so as to qualify as being part of an organised crime syndicate.
Designated Judge Y D Shinde, presiding over the special MCOCA court, however, rejected the bail plea of Purohit.
Purohit in his bail application had challenged the invocation of MCOCA in the case on grounds that the stringent law does not apply in the case as none of the accused have previous criminal antecedents.
"According to the prosecution, the accused belonged to a group Abhinav Bharat that was part of the organised crime syndicate. However, Abhinav Bharat is a registered group, which has objectives like promoting national harmony and so on and not to promote violence," Purohit's lawyer Shrikant Shivade said.
He further said that the prosecution had invoked MCOCA only to extract confessions from the accused. "If the case is under IPC then the confessions would have to be recorded before a magistrate but in MCOCA cases the confessions can be recorded by a deputy commissioner of police," Shivade was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
He also stated that Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) does not have any other individual evidence in the case against the accused other than the confessions. "Police resort to such moves when they lack evidence," he said.
Besides Thakur and Purohit, the other accused are Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Dayanand Pandey, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre, Sameer Kulkarni and Ajay Rahirkar.
The ATS had filed a 11,000-page charge sheet against the accused in January.
The court said the trial should instead be conducted by a regular court and the ATS has four weeks to file an appeal.
Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008 at Malegaon, a textile town near Nashik.
BJP WELCOMES DROPPING OF MCOCA CHARGES
The BJP on Saturday welcomed the dropping of charges under MCOCA against Malegaon blast accused and said this had "smashed" the "fictional myth" about Hindu terror.
"We welcome the dropping of charges under MCOCA against Malegaon blast accused by the Mumbai special court. With this the diversionary and fictional myth about Hindu terror has been smashed. It has been proven false," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
He said the 11,000 page chargesheet against accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Colonel Srikant Purohit had failed to prove the MCOCA charges.
"The case will now be tried in an ordinary court. The MCOCA charges were dropped on two grounds. One, that the accused were not a part of any organised crime syndicate. Secondly, there was no prior chargesheet against them," Rudy said.
As Thakur was earlier associated with the Sangh Parivar, it was alleged that Malegaon incident proved the existence of Hindu terror, however BJP leaders, including party president Rajnath Singh, had defended Thakur and accused the government of wrongly persecuting her and harassing her through a series of narco-analysis tests.