The Bombay high court refused to grant bail to 2008 Malegaon bomb blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who has been in custody for five and a half years in connection with her role as a conspirator in the crime.
A division bench dismissed an appeal filed by her against a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court order, refusing bail to her on medical grounds.
"Taking into consideration, the material available on record, it cannot be said that the appellant is not guilty of the offence for which she is charged. The material clearly indicates that the appellant is a conspirator and had actively helped the co-accused by providing a motorcycle for explosion of a bomb at Malegaon," a bench headed by Justice P V Hardas said.
"We are of the considered opinion that a strong prima facie case against the appellant exists, on the basis of material available on record and the same is sufficient to deny bail to her," the bench said.
The judges said that they did not find the impugned order passed by the Special MCOCA Court judge on September 25, 2012, to suffer from any legal infirmity.
Senior Counsel U A Lalit argued that the appellant suffers from serious ailments and produced before the court a medical report dated February 4, 2014, issued by the Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Bhopal.
National Investigating Agency Counsel Rohini Salian submitted that government hospitals were well equipped to provide all sorts of medical help to the appellant and that even at this juncture, the Sadhvi is being provided with the best medical facilities available in government hospitals.
"Therefore we see no reason to accede to the request of the learned senior counsel, that on the ground of ill health or for want of medical treatment, the appellant needs to be released on bail," the judges said.
In our opinion, the appellant's role in the crime is of a serious nature and the punishment as contemplated under Section 3(1)(i) of the MCOCA is of death or life imprisonment.
Therefore the contention of her counsel that she has already undergone a substantive part of the sentence is not correct", the bench said.
The Sadhvi is accused of hatching the conspiracy with others, which led to the September 29, 2008, blast at Malegaon in Nashik district in which six people died, after which she was arrested on October 23, 2008.
The 38-year-old Sadhvi has been charged with various provisions under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the MCOCA. At present, she is lodged in a Bhopal jail.
The prosecution has alleged that she is one of the principal conspirators who had taken an active part in the bomb blast by providing her motorcycle to the other accused, to plant explosives.
Her counsel argued that the motorcycle, which was allegedly used in the blast, was not in her possession for more than a year prior to the date of incident, but in the possession of one Ramchandra Kalsangra.
Besides, he said, there are no other incriminating circumstances against her and that she suffers from various ailments including probable cancer. There is no possibility of the trial commencing in the near future and hence she is entitled to be released on bail, her counsel argued.
However, the court noted, "We have perused the entire record made available by the appellant and NIA. After perusing the entire record, it reveals that the role of the appellant in the crime is of a conspirator and also that, she provided her motorcycle to plant explosives for a blast at Malegaon".
Hence, bail cannot be given to her in this case, the bench said.