Two days after Supreme Court agreed to give conditional bail to Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit — accused in 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case that killed six people — on Wednesday walked out of Taloja jail in Mumbai after being in prison for last 9 years of his life.
Purohit who was suspended from service on January 20, 2009, after his arrest will be attached to an Army unit say sources. While being treated as “under open arrest”, Purohit will be allowed to wear civilian clothes; different to how usually a soldier is supposed to wear the army uniform inside the premises.
Purohit is most likely to join the unit he was serving last before the arrest. He may also return to army provided the Supreme Court verdict on the case falls in his favour.
The apex court in its order on Monday said, “We set aside the order of Bombay High Court” while granting condition bail to Malegaon blast accused Purohit.
The decision came as a big relief to Col Purohit after he had to approach the apex court following the rejection of his appeal by Bombay High Court in April this year.
01: 33 PM IST | Col Purohit leaves Colaba military station, heading to Mumbai sessions court.
12: 32 PM IST | Released on conditional bail by the Supreme Court, Lt Colonel Purohit has reached Colaba military station. He is not slated to join army unit in Pune by evening today.
11: 24 AM IST | Army vehicles escort Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit after his release from Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai. He is been taken to Army station in Colaba.
10: 52 AM IST | Lt Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit has been released from Talojia jail in Mumbai after SC granted him bail two days ago. Purohit will be joining army unit in Pune within 24 hours of his release today.
— NewsX (@NewsX) August 23, 2017
10: 34 AM IST | Here is a brief cheat-code of the timeline in the Malegaon bomb blast case:
|September 2008||A bomb explosion took place in a busy market area of Malegaon in Mahrashtra’s Nashik district, killing at least six people and injuring many others.|
|October 2008||Three including — Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Shiv Narayan Gopal Singh Kalsanghra and Shyam Bhawarlal Sahu — arrested.|
|November 2008||Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested Lt Col Shrikant Purohit for allegedly supplying money and explosives.
|January 2009||14 chargesheets submitted by Maharashtra ATS.|
|July 2009||A special MCOCA court dropped charges against all the 11 accused in the case, including Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit.|
|July 2010||The Bombay High Court reinstated MCOCA against 11 accused.|
|April 2011||Investigation transferred to National Investigation Agency (NIA) by Home Ministry.|
|September 2011||Supreme Court rejected Sadhvi Pragya’s bail plea.|
|April 2015||Setting aside Bombay HC’s order, the Supreme Court drooped MCOCA charges due to lack of evidence against accused in the previous cases.|
|November 2015||A special court rejected the bail application of Sadhvi Pragya considering the evidence against her.|
|February 2016||NIA told special court MCOCA is not applicable in the Malegoan blasts case.|
|May 2016||NIA filed second chargesheet dropping charges against Sadhvi Pragya and three others on the basis of lack of evidence. Lt. Col Purohit and others accused continued to be charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.|
|September 2016||The special NIA court rejects the bail of Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit on the grounds that the evidence cited by the accused, will have to be proved under the Indian Evidence Act.|
|November 2016||ATS filed an affidavit pleading the court to allow the prosecution to lead with files.|
|April 2017||Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur granted bail by Bombay HC on the condition that she will not try to influence the prosecution witnesses.|
|August 17, 2017||The Supreme Court reserved its verdict on a plea of Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit seeking interim bail.|
|August 21, 2017||The Supreme Court grants conditional bail to chief Malegaon accused Lt. Col. Purohit|
10: 31 AM IST | Lawyers representing Col Purohit are already inside the jail to conduct the final paperwork before he is released. Four army vehicles have also been installed inside the jail.
10: 17 AM IST | High security has been put in place to ensure the safe passage of the release.
— NewsX (@NewsX) August 23, 2017
10: 14 AM IST | Navi Mumbai: Army vehicles arrive at the Taloja jail ahead of Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit’s release. Reportedly the release orders have been signed by the jail authorities. Purohit has been given a time frame of 24 hours to join his unit.
10: 10 AM IST | RECAP: Citing the charges against Purohit of grave nature, Bombay HC rejected his plea while another accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur — accused of plotting the blast — was set free on bail.
Earlier, the SC bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre while listening to his bail plea last week reserved the order as Purohit told the court that he was in incarceration for the last nine years and was entitled to be granted bail.
Purohit was in the Army before he formed Abhinav Bharat to fight for a Hindu Rashtra.
Denying his involvement in the incident, Purohit told the court that even assuming that the charges that he had supplied the bomb were true, even then he would have to be out of jail as the offence attracted a maximum of seven years jail term.
But the National Investigation Agency (NIA) opposed the bail plea, saying there was evidence of his involvement in the Malegaon blast.
Purohit has challenged the April 25 Bombay High Court order which granted bail to another accused, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.
At least six persons were killed in the explosion in Malegaon in Nashik district on September 29, 2008.