A special court in Mumbai has framed charges in the 2008 Malegaon blast case against Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five others for terror activities, criminal conspiracy and murder, among others.
Judge Vinod Padalkar, presiding over the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, framed charges against all the seven accused under sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). After framing of the charges, the court posted the case on November 2 for the trial to commence. Framing of charges is a process after which the trial in a criminal case starts.
The accused were charged under sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA. Under the IPC, they were charged under sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups).
If convicted under these sections, the maximum punishment can be life imprisonment or death.
The accused were also charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act.
Apart from Purohit and Sadhvi, the accused are – Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni.