Former NIA prosecutor in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, Rohini Salian, today alleged that the prosecution had acted like a ‘shield’ to accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh in the case by not opposing her bail plea before a special court here.
“The prosecution did not oppose the bail of Sadhvi.. they acted like a defence lawyer. It is against the rule of law,” she said, adding, “in fact it was the intervener (family member of blast victim) who acted like prosecution and argued the case against grant of bail (to Sadhvi).”
The special NIA court on June 28 rejected the bail of Sadhvi, virtually questioning NIA’s clean chit and observed that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the charges against her are prima facie true.
She also said that if the NIA cannot handle the matter properly then it should hand over the case back to ATS, which was the original investigating agency.
“If they are finding it too hot to handle then they can hand over the matter back to ATS. There is a provision in the NIA Act to that effect. What had NIA done since 2011,” Salian asked.
She said just casting aspersions on ATS and maligning the name of investigating officers creates doubt (on NIA’s work).
Hitting out at the NIA for the charge sheet that it filed revoking charges under MCOCA, Salian said that there is no additional material in it.
“It is not a charge sheet…they have not investigated the case but the role of the ATS investigating officers,” Salian added.
The senior advocate said that if some (ATS) officers have committed mistakes then a complaint has to be filed.
“However on what basis they are saying this, is it only on the basis of few witnesses statements?” she asked.
Salian, who had withdrawn from the case last year alleging that NIA had asked her to “go soft on the accused” in the case, also questioned the probe agency’s authority for giving clean chit to some accused who were arrested earlier.
“How can NIA give clean chit to someone who was arrested earlier. Court has taken cognizance of the ATS charge sheet and bail has been denied. Now who is NIA to give a clean chit,” Salian said.
She said that the action of NIA (in giving clean chit to some accused and dropping MCOCA charges in the case) amounts to interference in court proceedings. “The court will decide which charge stays or goes during the framing of charges,” Salian added.
Due to this, people in Maharashtra in general and residents of Malegaon specifically have suffered, she said.
Seven people were killed in the blast at Malegaon, a predominantly Muslim town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.
Pragya was charged by the Maharashtra ATS in 2009, saying it was her motorcycle that was used to plant the bomb.