Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], December 19 (ANI): The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is delaying the trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and not us, advocate JP Mishra, lawyer of BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, said on Saturday.
This comes after a special NIA court in Mumbai, earlier today, expressed unhappiness over the absence of all the accused during the hearing and again directed all the accused persons to physically appear before the court on the next hearing on January 4.
"It is the NIA which is delaying the trial and not us. if they allege that case is delayed due to the absence of the accused, then let them show examples when we have sought adjournment on basis of absence," Mishra told reporters here.
Mishra was responding to the allegations of Sameer Kulkarni, who is another accused in the case. Earlier, Kulkarni had reportedly said that it is sad that other accused in the case including Sadhvi Pragya are delaying the trial by seeking exemptions.
Notably, four out of the seven accused were present before the court. Three accused persons, including Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Sudhakar Chaturvedi did not appear before the special NIA court today. Applications for exemption from today's hearing were filed before the court by their lawyers.
Mishra, during the hearing, appraised the court that all arrangements were made for Pragya's travel to Mumbai including her stay at a government guest house in order to attend the hearing, however, she was admitted to AIIMS, Delhi for treatment after the advice from her doctors, and could not come to Mumbai.
Speaking to ANI, he said, "It is the NIA, which only brings one witness in every hearing, whose statement and cross-questioning gets over in an hour or less than that. Let the NIA bring four to five witnesses a day. Then, we can expect expedited proceedings. Who has stopped NIA from bringing more witnesses so that the court can function for longer?"
Apart from Thakur, LT Col Purohit, Chaturvedi and Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay and Sudhakar Dwivedi are also accused in the case.
They have been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the Explosive Substances Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The charges include Sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA and Sections 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153(a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups) of the IPC.
Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008. (ANI)