NIA court drops MCOCA charges against Col Purohit & Sadhvi Pragya

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Mumbai: A special National Investigation Agency court on Wednesday dropped charges under stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) against 2008 Malegaon blast case main accused Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit.

Apart from him, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Ramesh Upadhyay and Ajay Rahikar have also been discharged under the MCOCA and under sections 17, 20 and 13 of the UAPA and the Arms Act.

Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya will now be tried under UAPA Section 18 and other charges of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The NIA court had earlier dismissed the pleas filed by accused Purohit and Sameer Kulkarni, challenging their prosecution.

The accused in the case had challenged grant of sanction of prosecution under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The Supreme Court had in August this year granted bail to Purohit in the case.

A bench of Justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre set aside the Bombay High Court order denying bail to him.

While seeking bail, Purohit had told the Supreme Court that he had been caught in a “political crossfire” and had been languishing in jail for nine years.

Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008 at Malegaon, a  textile town in Nashik district of north Maharashtra. A special MCOCA court had earlier ruled that the ATS had wrongly applied this law against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Purohit and nine others.

The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because of a sizeable Muslim population there. It had named Thakur, Purohit and co-accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey as the key conspirators. However, Thakur was last year given clean chit by the NIA.

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