Mumbai: In a major setback for the National Investigations Agency (NIA), the Bombay High Court on Friday granted bail to four Hindu extremists, who have been accused of executing multiple blasts in Malegaon city near Nashik, in September 2006. The HC slammed the NIA for conducting fresh investigation into the matter and not carrying out further probe. A bench of Justices Indrajit Mahanty and Anant Badar granted bail to Dhan Singh, Lokesh Sharma, Manohar Singh Narwaria and Rajendra Chaudhry. The bench directed the four to pay Rs 50,000 each to avail bail. The bench noted the fact that the four were arrested by the NIA by the end of 2012 and they are languishing in jail since then. “Their trial is not going to be finished within next six months. There is nothing on record to come to the conclusion that these four persons are having criminal antecedents or that releasing them may be harmful to the lives of informant, family members of the victim or witnesses in the case.”
In its judgment, the judges noted the fact that the case was initially probed by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS), which arrested nine Muslim men, allegedly belonging to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The case was then transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which investigated in the similar direction and carried forward the probe. However, the case got a fresh turn after the NIA was handed over the matter to probe further. The then Union government had ordered the NIA to further probe the matter.
The NIA trashed the ATS and CBI theory and exonerated all the nine Muslim men and instead arrested these four Hindu men. The arrests were made as per the confessional statements of Asimanand Swami, who was arrested for his role in the Mecca Masjid blast. Having considered this, the bench said, “Further investigation is the continuation of the earlier probe and not a fresh investigation or reinvestigation to be started ab initio wiping out the earlier investigation altogether.” “The special court cannot have any jurisdiction to ignore any of the reports but the same is duty bound to consider all reports, entire record and documents submitted by the ATS, CBI as well as the NIA in the crime in question registered because of bomb blast at Malegaon on 8th September 2006 and caused explosion due to which 31 persons lost their lives and more than 312 were injured,” the judgment authored by Justice Badar reads.
The judges further noted the fact that the evidence adduced by the NIA was not as incriminating as required to prosecute the four Hindu extremists. “It is not in dispute that there is no witness to the fact alleged by the NIA that these accused persons used the bicycles to purchase and planted bombs causing explosion at Malegaon,” the judgement reads. “The final reports submitted by the ATS, was endorsed and affirmed by the CBI, which conducted further investigation. However, by conducting fresh probe, the NIA disapproved those reports and impleaded these accused, after about six years from the incident,” the judges reads.