The NIA on Friday told the Bombay High Court that it will be filing an application before a lower court seeking police protection for 38 "sensitive" prosecution witnesses in the September 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case.
Additionally, the National Investigating Agency has sought an in-camera trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, in which Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and five others are also accused in the case. If the court allows the plea, only the accused, their lawyers, prosecution team and concerned court staff would be allowed to attend the hearing. It is also likely that there could be a ban on publication of any matter related to the trial without obtaining permission from the court.
They are facing trial under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code on terror and conspiracy charges.
The National Investigation Agency made its submission before a division bench of justices IA Mahanty and AM Badar hearing a petition filed by Purohit seeking non-truncated copies of the witness statements that are part of the charge sheet.
NIA counsel Sandesh Patil told the bench that out of the 475 witnesses, the statement of 186 are truncated.
"Out of these 186, 38 witnesses are sensitive witnesses. They need to be given protection and their evidence will have to be recorded in-camera," Patil said.
"We are ready to give the accused (Purohit) non- truncated statements of the remaining witnesses," he said.
He added that the agency will be filing an application before the special NIA court, conducting trial in the case, for protection cover for these 38 witnesses. The bench then adjourned hearing on Purohit's plea for two weeks.
Six people were killed and 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in the North Maharashtra town of Malegaon, about 200 km from here, on September 29, 2008.