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Framing charges means court has found material against Pragya Singh: NIA court

Thursday, April 25, 2019
By Bhavna Uchil

Plea to bar Pragya Singh from contesting elections

Court rejects plea seeking to bar her from contesting elections saying it has no legal powers to do so

While rejecting the application filed by the father of a Malegaon blast victim which had sought that the BJP's Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur be barred from contesting elections, the special court stated that it has no legal powers to do so and the matter falls in the domain of the Election Commission.

It also noted in its order that it has framed charges against Pragya and others, which means that it has found prima facie material against them in the chargesheets filed by the ATS and the NIA. The court made this observation in the context of the NIA, the prosecuting agency in the case, making a submission in its reply to the blast victim's father – Nisar Bilal's plea that it has not found sufficient evidence against Pragya Singh and some others and that prosecution against them was not maintainable.

Special Judge under the NIA Act VS Padalkar stated in his order, “In say filed by the NIA, the IO (Investigation Officer) has noted that no prima facie material is collected against Pragya Singh. It is not known why this portion was included in the say by the IO when there is no prayer of the intervener (Nisar Bilal) in this respect. In fact, discharge application (by Pragya Singh) was rejected on December 27, 2017. Had it been that there was absolutely no case against then discharge application (which was rejected) would have been challenged (by NIA). At this juncture NIA cannot state there is no prima facie case against Pragya Singh as NIA has not challenged it (rejection of discharge of Pragya).'

Regarding rejecting the plea the court stated, “In respect of elections, present court does not have legal powers to restrain from contesting elections. The matter is in domain of the Election Commission. The court cannot restrict citizens unless they are declared as disqualified..It is unfortunate that without citing provisions of law, application was filed by the intervener to give direction to the EC to bar (Pragya Singh) from contesting elections.”

Pragya Singh in her reply to the plea had sought that exemplary costs be levied on the intervener for making the 'frivolous' application. Regarding this judge Padalkar stated that the advocates will be well aware that this court was not the proper forum (for such plea). Since it was not the court that granted bail, a wrong forum was chosen. However, the court found that there was no need to impose exemplary cost and a word of caution will suffice.

In October last year, this court had framed charges, including terror charges against Pragya Singh and six others for their role in the 2009 Malegaon blast case, in which Pragya Singh has been chargesheeted as the main accused.

‘Pragya Singh contesting to say that there is no saffron terrorism’
Appearing for Pragya Singh Thakur, her advocate JP Mishra while arguing the plea filed by a blast victim's father seeking to bar her from contesting elections, said that Singh was contesting elections only to say that there is nothing like 'saffron terrorism'. He stated that she was contesting 'for the cause of the nation, for the sake of the ideology'. Mishra stated further that she was asked to contest and is taking pain to do so, though her health was not allowing her. “We are hurt, have suffered like anything,” Mishra said, at which point judge VS Padalkar cautioned him that he was crossing the line by making such statements.

‘Claim that plea made for publicity baseless, not aligned with any political party’
Appearing for the father of the blast victim who had filed the plea, advocate Hetali Sheth argued in court that it was easy to forget that the intervener is the father of the blast victim, had lost his son in the blast and is a man who wants justice for his son. She said that repeatedly the claim is made that intervener is associated with a political party. “This point is made to sensationalize the matter,” she said and asserted that he was not aligned with any political party. The allegation that the plea was made for publicity was made by Pragya Singh Thakur in response to the plea the blast victim's father had filed.

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