New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday asked 2008 Malegaon bomb blast accused Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit to agitate his contention against the sanction given to prosecute him under an anti-terror law before the trial court hearing the case.
In a relief to Purohit, a bench of Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre said the issue can be raised before the trial court during the framing of charges in the case.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Purohit challenging the proceedings against him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the absence of valid sanction from the competent authority.
On December 18, 2017, the Bombay High Court had dismissed the plea by Purohit. He then approached the apex court challenging the High Court order and the December 27, 2017 order of the Court of Special Judge under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and NIA Act.
The trial court in its 2017 order, while discharging Purohit of the offences under the MCOCA and the offences punishable under certain provisions of the UAPA, had decided to proceed against him under other provisions of the stringent act.
Purohit had contended in the High Court that no appropriate authority had been appointed by the Maharashtra government, as required under UAPA section, and so there was breach of mandatory requirement of the provision.
He had argued that under the UAPA, the state law and judiciary department, the sanctioning authority, has to seek a report from an appropriate authority. In his case, the sanction was given in January 2009 but the authority was appointed only in October 2010.
On January 17, 2009, the Additional Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra home department had accorded sanction to apply stringent provisions of the UAPA to the case.
The proceedings against him are in the absence of valid sanction from the competent authorities, and are thus a miscarriage of justice and bad in law, he added.
Section 45(1) and (2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 say that no court will take cognizance of any offence without the previous sanction of the Central government or any officer authorised by the Central government in its behalf.
The offences for which prior sanction is required under said provisions include being a member of unlawful association, punishment for terrorist activities and offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation or supporting it.
The case against Purohit relates to 2008 Malegaon blast where six persons were killed and 101 injured when an improvised explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off at Malegaon, a town with sizable Muslim population in north Maharashtra’s Nashik district.