In a major blow to the prosecution in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Friday dropped charges under MCOCA against all the 11 accused in the case, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit.
On the prosecution’s plea, the court has granted a stay of four weeks for it to appeal against this order in the Bombay High Court. The order came in response to bail applications of Purohit and accused Ajay Rahirkar who had also argued about the non-applicability of MCOCA in this case.
The court directed the accused who had filed bail applications to move the Nashik sessions court instead as the case will not be tried in the special MCOCA court in Mumbai. Prasad’s lawyer Shrikant Shivade, and Rahirkar’s lawyer Vijay Tulpule argued that for MCOCA to be applied, the accused or co-accused should have two or more chargesheets filed against them. At the time of their arrest in October 2008, none of the accused had any.
In November last, two chargesheets were filed against accused Rakesh Dhawade in the 2003 Parbhani blast and 2004 Jalna blast. Both involve alleged members of Rashtriya Seva Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal. In both cases, the magistrate had not taken cognisance of the chargesheets before November 20, when MCOCA was invoked.
“The chargesheets were filed in record time so as to comply with the two- chargesheet requirement. The manner in which they were filed shows malafide of the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) to unjustifiably invoke MCOCA,” said Shivade.