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MCOCA restored in Malegaon blast case

Staff Reporter

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday reapplied the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) to the September 29, 2008 Malegaon blast case. The case, as a result, has been transferred back to the Special MCOCA court. The High Court also held that the bail applications of the accused would be heard afresh by the MCOCA court.

The court's order was with reference to an appeal filed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), challenging the revocation of the MCOCA.

A Division Bench of Justices B.H. Marlapalle and Anoop V. Mohta noted that “all the orders [of the Special Court] are required to be quashed and set aside and all the bail applications would stand restored to the file of the Special court for being decided afresh on their own merits.”

Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur, Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Ajay Rahirkar are the accused, who had applied for bail.

The arguments pertaining to the application of the MOCCA in the Malegaon case hinged on the issue of cognisance on the two charge sheets filed against accused Rakesh Dhawade prior to the Malegaon blast – one in Parbhani and the other in Jalna.

Two previous charge sheets against one of the accused persons of an organised crime syndicate is a requirement for applying the MCOCA.

The High Court restored it on the ground that cognisance was taken on Dhawade's charge sheets. It observed that the Special Court's basis for revocation of the Act on the issue of taking cognisance was “against well settled legal position.”

“As is the settled legal position, cognisance is taken of an offence and not of an offender. Hence, the leaned Special Judge was not right in holding that the competent court was required to take cognisance of offences against respondent 7 [Dhawade]…It is clear that in both the cases [Jalna and Parbhani] the respective courts had taken cognisance of some of the offences with sentence of three years or more and prior to November 20, 2008 [when the MCOCA was first applied in the case].”

The High Court rejected the defence's plea for a stay on the Monday's order.

Sadhvi Pragnya Singh's lawyer Ganesh Sovani told reporters that the defence would go to the Supreme Court if necessary.

The three accused are slated to be produced before the MCOCA court on July 23.

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