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Bharti Jain| TNN | New Delhi | Feb 3, 2017:: With NIA sticking to its stance that charges against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, are not maintainable+, her enlargement on bail depends on how the Bombay HC views her case scheduled for February 7.
The possibility of Thakur, acquitted on Wednesday in the Sunil Joshi murder case+ but still an accused in the Malegaon case, walking free hinges on her appeal challenging rejection of bail plea by the NIA special court in June, 2016. Sources in NIA told TOI that the central investigation agency will maintain the stance taken by it before the special court last year that the case against Thakur suffers from lack of sufficient evidence of her involvement in the Malegaon blasts. The September 2008 Malegaon blasts, triggered by an IED fitted on a LML Freedom motorcycle, had killed 6 people and injured 101 others.
The special court had in May last year turned down Thakur’s bail plea despite the NIA, in a supplementary charge-sheet filed in the case, clearing her of all charges for lack of evidence. The NIA’s ‘clean chit’ was based on several grounds. The LML-Freedom motorcycle used for planting the bomb was registered in Pragya Thakur’s name but in possession of co-accused Ramji Kalsangra for almost two years prior to the blast.
Then, the statement by accused Sudhakar Dwivedi that he was introduced to Kalsangra and another co-accused Sandeep Dange by Thakur, NIA said, had no evidentiary value and was retracted. Two key witnesses — R P Singh and Yashpal Bhadana — who had testified on Thakur being part of the meeting in Madhya Pradesh where the Malegaon conspiracy was hatched, had since retracted their statements saying they had acted under duress.
NIA also pointed out that since its investigation had not established any offence under MCOCA, all confessional statements recorded under its provisions by ATS Mumbai were not relied upon by the central agency while submitting its final report in the case. However, the NIA court in June 2016 brushed aside the agency’s ‘clean chit’ to Pragya Thakur and rejected her bail plea.
Faulting the NIA for not investigating the case properly, it held: “It cannot be said that due to the filing of further report by NIA, there is any change in circumstance. If this is the position then merely on the ground that now NIA has given no objection, it is difficult to accept the prayer (bail) of the applicant.”
Thakur had also cited her ill-health and long incarceration following her arrest in 2008, as grounds for seeking bail.