It was Pragya Thakur’s first appearance before the NIA court, which is conducting the trial in the 11-year-old case, after being elected to Lok Sabha from Bhopal last month.
Before this, a section of the media had reported that Pragya Thakur was trying to look for excuses to not make a court appearance. However, her close aide Upma said the sadhvi had been hospitalised for a stomach ailment in Bhopal Wednesday night and discharged early Thursday.
On Thursday, her lawyer Prashant Magoo had told the court she is suffering from high blood pressure and is unable to travel to Mumbai from Bhopal. The court granted her exemption for the day and asked her to appear before it Friday.
“Today (Thursday), the exemption is granted. But Pragya Thakur will have to appear on Friday else she will have to face consequences,” the judge said.
The last time the sadhvi had shown up in the court was during the framing of charges in the case in October last year.
Special NIA Judge VS Padalkar had last month directed all the accused, including Pragya Singh Thakur, to appear before the court at least once a week.
The judge then said an exemption from appearance would be granted only if cogent reasons were submitted.
Mumbai: BJP MP from Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur, arrives at Special NIA Court to appear in Malegaon blast case pic.twitter.com/q5JCZvfTA8
— ANI (@ANI) June 7, 2019
The 49-year-old Hindutva activist had sought the exemption for completing formalities relating to her election to Parliament, but the court said her presence is necessary at this stage in the case.
The court is recording the testimony of witnesses in the case.
Seven persons, including Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit, are facing trial in the case.
Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a power-loom town in north Maharashtra, on 29 September 2008.
According to police, the motorbike was registered in Thakur’s name and that led to her arrest in 2008. The Bombay High Court granted her bail in 2017.
The accused are facing trial under various sections of the UAPA, the Indian Penal Code and the Explosive Substances Act.
The accused have been charged under UAPA sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act). They are also facing charges under IPC sections 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153(a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups).