MUMBAI— A special court in Mumbai has granted exemption to the 2008 Malegaon blast case accused Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Sudhakar Chaturvedi from appearing before it this week.
When the matter was taken up by the special NIA court on Monday, the three accused filed applications through their lawyers seeking exemption from appearance.
While Thakur and Chaturvedi said they are busy with preparations for the upcoming results of the Lok Sabha polls, which they had contested, Purohit cited personal difficulties.
The court allowed the applications.
The court also allowed an application filed by lawyers of the accused persons to visit the blast site in Malegaon, a town about 200 kilometers from Mumbai in Maharashtra’s Nashik district.
Last week, the special NIA court, which is conducting a trial against seven accused in the case, had directed all of them to appear before it at least once a week.
It then said an exemption would be granted if cogent reasons were submitted.
Thakur, the BJP nominee from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, said in her application that as a candidate, she would have to fulfil certain procedures of the Election Commission, including nominating her agents for the counting of votes in her constituency on 23 May.
Chaturvedi, who fought the election as an Independent from Mirzapur seat in Uttar Pradesh, cited the same reason.
Currently, the court is recording the testimony of witnesses in the case.
Besides these three, the other accused in the case are Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi and Sameer Kulkarni. They are all out on bail.
Six people were killed and over 100 injured on 29 September, 2008, when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon.
The accused persons are facing trial under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
They have been charged under UAPA Sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act).
They are facing charges under 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.
The accused have also been charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act.