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The Bombay High Court today asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file its reply to an appeal by Lt Col Prasad Purohit, a prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, against the trial court's order rejecting his bail plea. A bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil posted the matter for hearing on November 16 along with the bail petition filed by a co-accused in the case, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. The judges also called for original documents and case papers filed by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police and NIA, the two agencies which had probed the matter. In June 2016, the HC had dismissed an appeal filed by Purohit against the trial court's order rejecting his bail plea and asked him to approach the trial court afresh. Thereafter, Lt Col Purohit moved the trial court, but the bail plea was once again rejected. Aggrieved, he approached the high court, which sought NIA's response today. The high court had earlier asked the trial court to consider the new material in the supplementary charge sheet filed by NIA while hearing his bail plea. Purhohit contended that the trial court had not taken into account the new material in the supplementary charge sheet. His lawyer Srikant Shivade argued that Purohit was in jail for more than seven years and, as NIA had concluded the investigation, he should be enlarged on bail. The trial court has consistently refused bail to Purohit since 2010. His last bail plea was rejected in October 2015, following which he moved the high court. Purohit has claimed in his appeal that the trial court should have appreciated that he has "an outstanding, meritorious record and that he risked his life to fight against terrorism across the country".
He also alleged that he had been "framed". Co-accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur too has moved for bail separately and the high court has kept both the petitions for hearing on November 16. Thakur was given a clean chit by the NIA earlier this year, but the trial court refused to grant her bail. Her petition in the high court said the lower court had failed to take into consideration the change in circumstances. On May 13, NIA had filed a supplementary charge sheet, giving a clean chit to six accused, including Sadhvi Pragya. It also said that the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) was not applicable in the case. Six persons were killed in a blast at Malegaon, a Muslim-majority town in north Maharashtra, in September 2008.
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