NEW DELHI, Aug 21 - The Supreme Court today granted bail to Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who has been languishing in jail for almost nine years for his alleged role in 2008 Malegaon blast case, observing there were contradictions in the charge sheets filed by different investigating agencies.
The top court also said it cannot deny the relief to him merely because �sentiments of community was against him�.
Six people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra.
The apex court said there were �material contradictions� in the charge sheets filed by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), Mumbai and the National Investigating Agency (NIA), which are required to be tested at the time of trial, and it cannot pick or choose one version over the other.
A bench of Justices RK Agrawal and Abhay Mohan Sapre, while taking note of variations in the charge sheets filed by Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) Mumbai and NIA, said that fresh ground for consideration of Purohit�s bail plea was made out, as at the relevant time, he was an Intelligence officer of the Indian Army.
It said that Purohit has refuted the claim of conspiracy on the ground that he had informed to his senior officers about the intelligence inputs of meetings attended by him at the Abhinav Bharat, a right-wing Hindu extremist outfit, and alleged role of ATS officials in the planting of RDX explosive substance at the residence of a co-accused.
Keeping in view that NIA submitted a supplementary charge sheet which is �at variance� with the one filed by the ATS, the trial was likely to take a long time and the appellant has been in prison for about eight years and eight months, �we are of the considered view that the appellant has made out a prima facie case for release on bail and we deem it appropriate to enlarge the appellant herein on bail,� the bench said.
Holding that the �grant or denial is regulated, to a large extent, by the facts and circumstances of each particular case,� it said but the �right to bail is not to be denied merely because of the sentiments of the community being against the accused.�
�Liberty of a citizen is undoubtedly important but this is to balance with the security of the community. A balance is required to be maintained between the personal liberty of the accused and the investigational rights of the agency. It must result in minimum interference with the personal liberty of the accused and the right of the agency to investigate the case,� the bench said. � PTI