The Supreme Court on Monday declined to grant bail to Lieutenant Colonel SP Purohit, one of the key accused in the case relating to 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts which killed seven people.
"It is a grievous offence. Many people were killed. The trial is still on," the apex court said when Purohit's counsel submitted that the accused was languishing in jail for the past two years.
A bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and T S Thakur, however, admitted the appeal filed by Purohit challenging his prosecution under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and agreed to expedite the hearing.
Though co-accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur had filed a similar appeal, it did not come up for hearing.
Both the accused have challenged the Bombay high court's direction allowing Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) to invoke MCOCA against them. The high court had passed the direction after reversing a judgement of a designated MCOCA court, which had on July 31, 2009, quashed the charges against the duo and nine others.
The accused have taken the plea that the high court had erred in upholding MCOCA provision against them and submitted that to invoke the Act, there should be previous history of organised criminal activities against them.
It was submitted that they had no prior criminal antecedents and even in the present bomb blast case they were falsely implicated.
Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district Maharashtra. The probe into the blast had brought into focus some right-wing Hindu groups.
A special MCOCA court had on July 31, 2009, held that ATS had wrongly applied MCOCA in the case against Pragya, Purohit and nine others.
The 4,000-page chargesheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected as the blast target because Muslims form the majority of its population. It named Thakur, Purohit and another accused Swami Dayanand Pandey as key conspirators.
The chargesheet had further alleged that it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange for the RDX while Pragya owned the motorcycle used in the blast.
Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised funds for the terror act while conspiracy meetings were held at Bhonsala Military School in Nasik.
Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni are the other six accused.
Purohit is the first serving Indian army officer accused of playing a major role in planning and executing a terror blast.
The ATS had also arrested retired Army officer Major Ramesh Upadhyay who, along with Thakur, was said to be a member of right wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat.
Purohit had come in contact with Upadhyay when he was posted at Nashik in the Army's liaison unit.