The court had directed ATS to submit its say on the discharge applications, after one of the accused belonging to a right-wing Hindu group demanded that court seek replies of CBI and ATS on the issue.
The National Investigation Agency, which took over the probe from other agencies at a later stage, has exonerated these 9, and claimed that the blasts were in fact the handiwork of members of a Hindu extremist group.
The ATS, in its reply, said it had filed chargesheet against these nine accused on the basis of investigation into the conspiracy hatched by them, their respective roles and evidence of various kinds.
“The role of the accused was established on the basis of the samples taken from the spot and from the godown of the accused and their voice samples,” said Pascal D’souza, assistant commissioner of police, ATS, in the reply.
The evidence before the court was enough to frame charges against them, ATS said, adding that when CBI probed the case subsequently, its findings were “in consonance” with ATS’s findings.
The next hearing would be in August. The accused who have sought discharge are: Noorul Huda Samsudoha, Shabbir Ahmed Masiullah, Raees Ahmed Rajab Ali Mansuri, Dr Salman Farsi Abdul Latif Aimi, Dr Farogh Iqbal Ahmed Magdumi, Mohammad Ali Alam Sheikh, Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid, Mohammad Zahid Abdul Majid Ansari and Abrar Ahmed Gulam Ahmed. All of them got bail after the case was transferred to NIA.
NIA arrested Lokesh Sharma, Dhan Singh, Manohar Singh and Rajendra Choudhary and chargesheeted them. They came under the scanner after Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, allegedly confessed that Hindu extremists were also involved in the 2006 Malegaon blasts.
The blasts at Malegaon, around 300km from Mumbai, on September 8, 2006 claimed 37 lives, leaving over 125 injured. Most of the victims were Muslim pilgrims.
The town witnessed another blast in 2008, for which Sadhvi Pragya Singh, former army officer Srikant Purohit and others were arrested.