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Revelations by Col Purohit will hit Malegaon accused hard

By Vicky Nanjappa
July 11, 2012 14:35 IST
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The other accused in the Malegaon blast case question Lt Colonel Purohit's delayed change in stance. Say they will challenge it in court. Vicky Nanjappa reports.    

Lt Colonel Purohit, who has been named as an accused in the Malegaon blasts case, has told the army court of inquiry that he was an infiltrator on official duty finding out the modus operandi of some right wing groups that were indulging in terrorist activities. Purohit is armed with the deposition of several army colleagues who have affirmed his claim.

Irrespective of what the army court of inquiry decides, Purohit will still have to face trial before the special MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) court which is seized of the case filed by the Maharashtra ATS.

Once this case comes up there is expected to be a confrontation between Purohit and the other accused in the case, namely Sadhvi Pragya Singh and others.

Purohit is expected to use the same defence taken before the military court in the MCOCA court as well. As per his latest defence, he has claimed that he was only an infiltrator, whereas the rest of the accused were involved in terror activities. Purohit claims he was only trying to get intelligence on them as per the orders of his superiors.

The latest revelations have, however, not gone down too well with the rest of the accused. The legal team of Sadhvi Pragya Singh told that this was a complete change in stance by him.

"Purohit's claim of innocence remains the same, but he is now seeking to elaborate on what exactly were the circumstances. The more disturbing fact of his statement is that he makes the rest out to be an accused while he claims that he was only spying on them. All through the case for the past two years he has never revealed this to the MCOCA court. If he now decides to make this statement it could be a dishonest deposition to which we will object," said members of the legal team.

"We would ask him as to why this defence was not taken at first and what were the circumstances that led to him make this changed statement now. The fact that he tries to exonerate himself and place the blame on the rest of the accused will be objected to and the primary question that would be asked is why this version never came out till date," they added.

However, the legal position in such matters is simple. Legal experts say that there is nothing that prevents Purohit from making a statement to this effect before the MCOCA court. "The deposition before both the army court and the MCOCA courts are the same. The larger point is that he has always claimed that he is innocent. There is no change to that. However, before the MCOCA court he will explain as to why he is innocent and will state the exact reasons he has been telling the army court," said a legal expert.

The problem, however, is for the other accused. Purohit's deposition makes him an innocent, but places the blame on the rest of the accused, who are being made out to be the persons on whom Purohit was spying. This would just give the prosecution added ammunition to push the case against the other accused.

Legal experts say that if Purohit makes this claim before the MCOCA court then the rest of the accused are well within their right to object to it by stating that this is an after thought and ought not to have come out so late. They would also argue as to why this version was hidden for so long and hence there could be a hidden agenda.

Experts further point out that although the other accused can put forth this argument there is no restriction on Purohit to make this new claim before the MCOCA court.

The biggest defence for Purohit would be that being an army officer, he was duty-bound to inform the army court about the real picture first.

Moreover, as per Purohit claim he was part of a secret operation and if had told the trial court first there was a danger of the entire operation coming out in the open, which he wanted to avoid. Being an army officer he had to inform the army court first, as this was an operation which was originally sanctioned by the army.

While both the courts as well as the other accused cannot deny him the right to make this new claim, the final decision would lie with the court itself.

Whatever the outcome in the army court, it would have not much bearing on the decision of the MCOCA court. Purohit can make the new claim and also bring in witnesses from the army court to support the same. The MCOCA court on the other hand would allow both the other accused as well as the prosecution to cross-examine him based on which it would decide the fate of Purohit.

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Vicky Nanjappa