A division bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday granted bail to four accused in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case. Justices IA Mahanty and AM Badar granted bail to Dhan Singh, Lokesh Sharma, Manohar Narwaria and Rajendra Chaudhary. "The petitions are allowed. The applicants shall be released on cash bail of Rs 50,000. They shall attend the special court on each day during the trial and shall not tamper with evidence or contact witnesses," the bench said.
The four accused had approached the high court in 2016 after a special court rejected their bail pleas in June that year. They were lodged in the jail since their arrest in 2013. The serial bomb blasts outside a cemetery near Hamidia mosque at Malegaon near Nashik on September 8, 2006, claimed 37 lives and injured over 100 people.
The Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which first probed the case, had initially arrested nine accused from the minority community. The case was later handed over to the CBI, which followed the same line of investigation.
In October last year, the court had framed charges in the case against all the seven accused for terror activities, criminal conspiracy and murder, among others.
The accused face trial under sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
They were charged under sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA.
Under the IPC, they were charged under sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups).
The accused were also charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act.
On September 29, 2008, six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from here in north Maharashtra.
The court also rejected a plea seeking the presence of anti-terrorism squad (ATS) officers in court during trial to assist the special public prosecutor.
It is for ATS to depute officers and decide whether or not they can remain present, the judge observed, adding that it is not the business of the court to depute ATS officer to assist the public prosecutor.
The plea was was filed by Nisar Ahmed Sayyed (59), who lost his son Sayyed Azhar in the blast.
He filed the plea through advocates Shahid Nadeem and Adil Shaikh, requesting the court to direct the head or higher authority of the ATS to depute officers concerned to assist the special public prosecutor (NIA) during the trial.
(With PTI inputs)