2008 Malegaon blasts: NIA refutes prosecutor's claim in SC

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has termed as 'unwarranted and baseless' the allegations levelled by its ex-special public prosecutor Rohini Salian that she was asked to 'go soft' against the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case.

Refuting Salian's claims before the Supreme Court, the NIA said that no accused was granted bail since June 2014 when prosecutor was allegedly asked to 'go soft'. "It is worth mentioning that all bail orders in Malegaon blasts case have been obtained by the accused persons when the respondents were represented through Rohini Salian (SPP) that no bail has been granted by any court to any person arrested in the case since June 2014 when, as alleged by Salian, the 'go soft' message was passed on to her," an affidavit submitted by NIA before the apex court said.

Salian, who was SPP in the case, had stirred a controversy by alleging that an NIA officer had told her to 'go soft' on the accused and claimed the same officer had told her that she would be replaced.

On the issue of Salian's removal from NIA's panel of lawyers, the anti-terror agency denied that she was being 'targeted' and said it was done as per the policy under which two other prosecutors were also proposed to be de-notified since they have completed five years.
"It is evident that Salian is not being targeted and the recommendation is in accordance with the process of law. It is relevant to note that the MHA is still examining the matter and a final view has not yet been taken," the affidavit said.

The agency has further stated that all matters relating to the Malegaon blasts cases were pending before the apex court during June 2014 and there was no pending matter of any importance before the trial court or Bombay High Court. The affidavit was filed in response to a plea, filed by Harsh Mander, against removal of Special Public Prosecutor by NIA in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case.'

The government had on September 21 rubbished in the Supreme Court allegations that Salian was asked to "go soft" on the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case. "The main allegation is that the prosecutor was asked to go soft. I myself have examined the papers. There is no truth in it," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), had told the court.

The PIL has accused the NDA government of trying to interfere with the functioning of the prosecutor in the case by exerting "pressure" on the prosecutor to "go soft" on the accused. It alleged that the executive was attempting to influence the judicial system.

It alleged that NIA officials had pressured erstwhile Special Public Prosecutor in case, Rohini Salian, 'presumably' under instructions from their "political masters".

The PIL sought a direction to the Centre to appoint an SPP to conduct 'fair' trial and constitute a Special Investigating Team of CBI to probe alleged actions of NIA officials who allegedly pressured Salian. The high-profile accused in the case include Lt Col S P Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected for the blasts because of its sizeable Muslim population. It named Pragya Singh Thakur, Purohit and another accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey, as the key conspirators. The charge sheet had alleged it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange for RDX, while Pragya owned the motorcycle which was used in the blast.

Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised funds for the terror act, while conspiracy meetings were held at Bhonsala Military School in Nasik, according to the charge sheet.

Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni were the other accused. The blast on September 29, 2008 had left four dead and nearly 80 injured.

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