Court rejects Pragya’s plea for exemption from appearance

PTI, Jun 20, 2019, 6:50 PM IST

Mumbai: The trial court here Thursday rejected an application made by BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur, prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, seeking permanent exemption from appearance once a week.

The newly-elected Bhopal MP had said in her plea that she was suffering from various ailments and was not in the condition to attend the court.

Thakur had also said that being a ‘sadhvi’ (a woman ascetic), she has to follow strict discipline for her ‘sadhna’ (worship) and adhere to certain dietary rules.

In view of all this, it was not possible for her to travel from Bhopal to Mumbai every week, said the application filed by her lawyer advocate J P Mishra.

She had also cited her duties as Bhopal MP as a reason for not being able to attend the court.

Advocate Mishra had also submitted that as per her party’s whip, she needs to attend the ongoing Parliament session.

Therefore, she should be exempted from appearance at least till the end of Parliament session on July 26, the lawyer said.

However, special judge for National Investigation Agency (NIA) cases V S Padalkar said these grounds were “not reasonable and genuine”. The judge, though, exempted her from appearance on Thursday.

“Attendance of Parliament is necessary and one should obey whip of the party”, however, no documentary evidence about any such whip was produced, the judge said.

Thakur, during her last appearance, had complained about dust in the courtroom and the chair provided for her.

Referring to her tantrums, the judge said, “There were some statements by Thakur that the premises of court hall was not clean… On humanitarian grounds the court repeatedly asked her to sit on the chair which she refused.”

Her statements were baseless and she “deliberately and intentionally” did not notice construction work happening in the court premises, the judge added.

The court had last month directed all the accused to appear before it once a week.

Thakur and six others are facing trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other laws.

In particular, they have been charged under sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA, and sections 302 (murder) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups) of IPC.

Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

According to the investigators, a Hindu extremist group of which Thakur was part carried out the blast.

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