BJP MP Pragya Thakur withdraws discharge plea in High Court

Pragya Thakur

BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Sameer Kulkarni, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, withdrew their discharge applications pending before the Bombay High Court on Thursday.

Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, another accused, withdrew his petition that alleged that the sanction to prosecute him obtained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was defective.

The accused withdrew their applications after the court questioned how they could be considered given the trial had already begun and over 200 witnesses had been examined, saying it “cannot set the clock back”.

The appeal filed by Thakur in January 2018 challenged an order of a special NIA court that rejected her plea seeking discharge in the case.

On Monday, a bench of Justices Ajey S Gadkari and Prakash D Naik, which was hearing pleas filed by Purohit, asked the accused why the court should hear the discharge pleas when more than 200 witnesses had already been examined. Thakur had claimed that the prosecution could not obtain proper sanction in view of her being an MP.

On Thursday, Thakur’s counsel asked to withdraw her appeal for discharge, and the court accepted it. Sameer Kulkarni also withdrew his discharge application but Purohit did not do so.

The bench has been hearing Purohit’s pleas challenging the special court’s orders and has observed that issues in the pleas are getting overlapped. It asked Purohit if he wanted to pursue his plea against the rejection of his discharge application by the trial court.

Purohit challenged the trial court order that rejected his discharge plea and claimed that the central government had not taken proper sanction required to prosecute a serving Army officer. He had filed another writ plea that challenged the NIA’s charging him under the UAPA without the central government’s sanction as stipulated under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The high court had also sought to know if Purohit wanted to withdraw his writ plea against the special court’s order that took cognisance of the chargesheet filed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2009.

The court had opined that the issue of whether the investigating agency had obtained proper sanction was common to all the pleas.

Advocate Neela Gokhale, appearing for Purohit, told the bench on Thursday that the NIA wanted to produce the sanctioning officer as a witness and that the officer could not be cross-examined during the trial. Therefore, she asked to withdraw the plea that alleged defective prosecution sanction and the court agreed.

Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device placed on a motorbike went off near a mosque at Malegaon in Maharashtra’s Nashik district on September 29, 2008.

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