Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lt Col Prasad Purohit: Victim of circumstances or all-round conspiracy?

On 15 April 2015, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court said in its order after hearing a bail application of Lt Col Prasad Purohit, the Indian Army Officer, accused of being involved in a bomb blast in Malegaon: "Since the occurrence is of the year 2008 and nearly seven years have gone by, it is imperative that the Special Court commence the trial at the earliest and conclude the same expeditiously. We direct the Prosecuting Agency to ensure that the necessary evidence i.e. oral, documentary as well as other form of evidence placed before the Court to enable the Special Court to commence the trial early and conclude the same expeditiously. It is stated that no officer has been posted for the Special Court as on date. We, therefore, request the Chief Justice of the High Court of Bombay to pass appropriate orders either for posting these cases before a learned Judge by way of special order or appoint a Presiding Officer exclusively for deciding these cases in order to ensure speedy trial. We also direct the Presiding Officer of the Special Court to dispose of the bail applications expeditiously, preferably within one month from the date of his/her assumption of Office as Special Judge. The Registry is directed to transmit the records forthwith."

Nearly a month has passed since then but why the Bombay High Court is yet to move on the 'request' made by the Supreme Court is anybody's guess. In fact, Purohit's wife made an application the very next day to the Bombay High Court to post a Special Judge and hear the matter immediately.

But why blame the Bombay High Court alone. For seven years, Purohit's strong-willed but soft-spoken wife Aparna has gone from pillar to post to get a fair trial for her husband, still a serving Lt. Col in the Indian Army. She has however failed to get any hearing, leave alone justice. 

For nearly seven years he has been in jail as an under-trial  under the stringent MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act) for the alleged crime of having masterminded the Malegaon bomb blasts on 29 September 2008. The investigation of these blasts was initially handled by the Maharashtra ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad). However, despite the NIA (National Investigation Agency) taking over the Malegaon blast case for investigation in April 2011, it is yet to file a charge sheet against Purohit.

The entire episode--like many other cases in this country--reeks of timidity, criminal negligence, apathy and above all indifference on part of almost everyone involved in law enforcement and criminal justice system (read a detailed account of the Purohit case here: (http://www.manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1803&ptype=#.VU8evY6qqko)

It also shows up the Indian Army--which prides itself on speedy justice--in poor light since its successive leadership from the time of his arrest had failed to give justice to a fellow officer. Indeed, it's a matter of shame that a rogue, over-ambitious Military Intelligence Officer was allowed to take law into his own hands and victimise Col Purohit (for details of the case and the circumstances under which Purohit was arrested and tortured inhumanly read this: (http://nitinagokhale.blogspot.in/2012/06/purohit-case-maze-of-confusion.html). 

Meanwhile simultaneously there was a Court of Inquiry held by the Army against Col. Purohit. Over 50 officers and men were called upon as witness. All of them came out in support of the accused officer (http://nitinagokhale.blogspot.in/2012/06/what-fellow-officers-said-about-lt-col.html). Perhaps surprised, the authorities never proceeded further in the case.

There is more. For nearly three years from 2012, each time the Supreme Court gave a date for hearing Purohit's bail plea, the case got postponed several times and appeal for bail was pending in the apex court for more than 18 months. It was not until 15 April this year that the case was heard. The order was passed that the trial be heard expeditiously and the matter disposed of within a month. As of 10 May, there is no indication if a Judge will be nominated to hear the case. Please note that actor Salman Khan's bail application was listed in the same High Court in next to no time.

Having been arrested and kept in jail for seven years, Col Purohit will have to face the law and go through the process to get justice to prove himself innocent but when the wheels of justice grind oh ever so slowly, one begins to wonder if he is just a victim of circumstances or of a larger conspiracy. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing the article with factual details. Why Modi government in centre or state government in Maharashtra is silent? Both belong to the same party. Why Shiv Sena, who otherwise vociferous in most of the matters is also silent? Their silence is intriguing.

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