The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and in jail for over eight years, holding that prima facie no case was made out against her.
The court, however, rejected the bail plea of co-accused Prasad Purohit, a former army lieutenant colonel, saying the charges against him are of "serious and grave" nature. Six persons were killed and nearly 100 others injured when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle had exploded in Malegaon town of Nashik district, about 270 km from Mumbai, on September 29, 2008. Sadhvi Pragya, 44 , was arrested in October that year and Purohit, 44 , the next month and both were charged with plotting the blasts as part of what the prosecution said a plan by Hindu right wing group Abhinav Bharat. They are in jail since their arrests. Nine others were also arrested and are behind bars.
"Prima facie there is no case made out against Sadhvi. But there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusations made against Purohit are prima facie true," a division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said. The court also asked Sadhvi Pragya to furnish a cash surety of Rs five lakh and surrender her passport to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). It also directed her not to tamper with the evidence and to report to the NIA court as and when required.
Sadhvi Pragya, who is suffering from cancer, is currently undergoing treatment at a Madhya Pradesh hospital, while Purohit is lodged in Taloja jail in Maharashtra. The NIA, which took over the probe from the ATS, had given a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya and told the high court that it had no objection if she was released on bail. The agency had, however, opposed Purohit's bail plea. "In our considered opinion, if both the reports of ATS and NIA are considered conjointly, so far as Sadhvi is concerned, it cannot be said that there are reasonable grounds for believing that accusations made against her are prima facie true," the judges observed.