All the 11 accused, including a serving Indian Army officer, in the Sep 29, 2008 Malegaon bomb blast are to be charged under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), the Bombay High Court said Monday, setting aside a lower court ruling.
A division bench comprising Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice A.V. Mohta set aside an order of a lower court of July 31, 2009, dropping charges under MCOCA on the 11 accused, including Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur and other members of right wing Hindu groups.
The high court also upheld the contention by the Maharashtra government, which went in appeal against the MCOCA Special Court’s order, that MCOCA should be made applicable on the 11 accused in the terror case.
Six people were killed and at least 20 injured when a bomb went off Sep 29, 2008, outside a mosque in Malegaon just after the evening prayers.
Besides the Sadhvi and a serving army officer, a retired officer of the Indian Army is also among the accused.
“All the accused are currently in custody in different jails in the state and shall be brought to Mumbai for trial under MCOCA July 23,” the Sadhvi’s lawyer Ganesh Sovani told IANS.
Last year, the MCOCA Special Court had granted the accused relief on grounds that the chargesheet filed against one of the prime accused, Rakesh Dhawade, by the police in a matter pertaining to the Jalna court, was not sustainable.
Hence it dropped the MCOCA charges on the accused, according to Sovani.
Under MCOCA, depending on the charges, the accused can get a minimum punishment starting with five years jail to life term or a death sentence, besides hefty fines, starting from Rs.100,000.
The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), had nabbed 11 people.
The accused are:
1) Sadhvi Pragnya Chandrapal Singh Thakur, alias Purna Chetnanandagiri, considered the main conspirator; her scooter, which she had sold over two years ago before the incident, was used in the deadly blast.
2) Shyamlal Sahu – owner of a mobile sales and servicing shop in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, a co-conspirator who was also accused of planting the bomb in Malegaon.
3) Shivnarain Singh Kalsangra – an electrician from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, accused of assembling a timer device that was used to explode the bomb.
4) Sameer Kulkarni – a former activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, in Bhopal, accused of helping procure the raw materials used in the bomb.
5) Retired Indian Army major Ramesh Upadhyaya, a resident of Pune, was active in the BJP’s cell for ex-servicemen, accused of imparting training in the techniques of bomb making.
6) Ajay Rahirkar – Also a resident of Pune, treasurer of the right-wing organization Abhinav Bharat, considered a key fund-raiser for the group.
7) Rakesh Dhawade – a Pune-based expert on weapons and an arms collector, accused of helping procure weapons for the group.
Jagdish Mhatre – a resident of Dombivli, in Thane district, adjacent to Mumbai, accused of helping store the weapons.
9) Dayanand Pandey, alias Sudhakar Dwivedi, considered a key conspirator, based in Jammu & Kashmir.
10) Lt. Col. Prasad S. Purohit – a serving Indian Army officer, attached to the AEC Panchmarhi, accused in the blasts conspiracy and helped to procure RDX.
11) Sudhakar O. Chaturvedi, weapons were found from him by the investigating agencies.