‘The ATS was investigating this case from a particular viewpoint. The situation changed in 2011 when NIA took over the case.’
“Prima facie there is no case made out against Sadhvi Pragya,” said Justice Ranjit More of the Bombay high court while granting bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, accused of plotting the 2008 Malegaon blast on Tuesday.
Soon after the verdict on Tuesday, Sadhvi’s lawyer Shyam Dewani spoke to Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf on what were the circumstances under which she got bail.
What happened today (Tuesday) at the Bombay high court?
The honourable court observed that prima facie no was case was found against Sadhvi Pragya, and that is based on the investigation by the National Investigation Agency.
We came up with the argument that there is no case against Sadhvi Pragya in the Malegaon blast. In addition to that, we argued that she is suffering from cancer and has been kept in jail for nine years.
But there were serious charges against Sadhvi Pragya, like her scooter was used in the blast?
There was material evidence on record that she sold her scooter back in 2004 (to Sunil Joshi, another accused in the Malegaon blast. He was shot dead on December 29, 2007, following which Sadhvi Pragya was accused of the murder. However, she was released in that case in February this year).
There’s another charge levelled against Sadhvi Pragya, that she attended a meeting in Faridabad where the conspiracy for the blast was hatched. However, there is no material evidence that she participated in that meeting.
Another allegation levelled is that she attended the Bhopal meeting where the Malegaon blast was planned, but again there is no evidence that she was part of the conspiracy.
When she sold the scooter in 2004, did she follow all proper documentation?
There is material evidence on record that she transferred the scooter to the seller’s name and she repaid the loan amount of the scooter in advance. The delivery note she took and the deal was done through a broker. All this was collected by the Anti-Terrorism Squad.
What about the terror meetings then?
In respect to the Faridabad meeting, the prosecution was trying to connect her with the Malegaon blast through these meetings which she did not attend. That was our argument in the case.
What has changed in the case after it was taken over by the NIA from ATS that she has now got bail?
It is our argument that the ATS was investigating this case from a particular viewpoint. The situation changed in 2011 when the NIA took over the case. The NIA took into consideration the same material which was not considered by the ATS for whatever reasons. The NIA submitted the chargesheet last year and that was changed the circumstances in the case.
The case was initially being investigated by the ATS under the leadership of Hemant Karkare, who was martyred in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
That is the unfortunate part of it. It is better I do not comment on it. The trial is still pending and it is improper on my part to make any comment. Several things will come out during the trial.
So let us wait and see what comes out of the trial.
In June 2015, public prosecutor Rohini Salian had stated that the government was trying to pressure her to go soft on Sadhvi Pragya. What do you have to say?
It is better we go by what is on record rather than going by what someone is saying. It is not proper on my part to speak on anybody’s comment.
Nine years is a long time to be denied bail, and now suddenly she gets bail?
It is unfortunate. I feel Sadhvi Pragya has bad destiny.
What is the condition that has been set up for bail?
She has been released on a bail of Rs 5 lakh surety in cash. She has also been asked to deposit her passport and told to not to tamper with the evidence, which are usual conditions for bail.
What is her health like?
I could not meet her because she was in Bhopal jail. I have been told that Sadhvi is in poor health and suffering from the dreaded disease (cancer).
How long do you think this case will go on?
Framing of charges is still going on.
It’s been nine years and charges are still being framed?
What can be done, unfortunately? First chargesheet, second chargesheet, supplementary chargesheet, then NIA chargesheet and the hearing on framing of charges is still going on. It is unfortunate.
Why did Lt Colonel Shrikant Purohit not get bail then? What was the observation by the court?
The court has unfortunately found that he is not entitled to bail.