SC: Victim’s Family Of Malegaon Blast Case To Move Bombay High Court To Seek Extension of Trial Judge’s Tenure

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Brief Facts of the Case
On 3rd June 2020, the bench heard a plea filed by Nisar Ahmed Sayyed Bilal. Mr. Bilal lost his son Sayyed Azhar Nisar Ahmed, in the explosion that took place at Bhikku Chowk, Malegaon on 29th September 2008.

Six people lost their lives in this blast, and 100 people got injured. The bombs were placed on a motorcycle and rigged to detonate in Malegaon, Maharashtra. The Anti-terror Squad (ATS) suspected these bombings by some Muslim extremist groups. But later, three people connected to the Hindu extremist groups faced arrest. In 2009, a charge sheet was filed against all the accused under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA).

On April 15, 2015, the SC held that the Malegaon accused is not chargeable under MCOCA due to a lack of evidence. Later it also released the prime accused of this case Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. The SC also directed the High Court to constitute a special court to restart the trial at the earliest. Special Judge Vinod S Padalkar, from National Investigation Agency (NIA), was presiding over this case. But on February 29, 2020, Shri. Padalkar was set to retire on account of superannuation.

Arguments before the Court

Mr. Bilal wrote to the Chief Justice requesting for an extension of the presiding officer. The letter states that “The victims have full faith in the judiciary of the country. They believe that although justice is already delayed, it will not be denied to us.”

Also, in his plea he stated that the change in the presiding officer would affect the trial and will delay the case. It is pending for a decade and involves some high profiled accused including BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt. Col Prasad Purohit.

He also highlighted the fact that the Hon’ble Court in its judgement dated 15.04.2015 noticed the delay which took place in the Trial. Thus, with a view for a speedy trial, the presiding officer was appointed for deciding these cases.

He also submitted that the delay of this nature is violative of the fundamental right under, Article 21 of the Constitution.

Held

The Court in this case observed the delay that had taken place. A bench comprising of Hon’ble Chief Justice S. A. Bobde, Justice A. Bopanna, and Justice Hrishikesh Roy gave the order. They gave liberty to the father of the victim to move to the Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay in the instant matter. The Court also stated that the Chief Justice may take an appropriate decision in the aforesaid matter. The writ petition was dismissed.


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