THE Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea challenging a Bombay High Court order that held that appeals of various accused including Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Pragya Singh Thakur against framing of charges in the 2008 Malegaon blast case were “maintainable”.
The High Court on March 5 had rejected the statutory plea of National Investigation Agency (NIA) that it cannot hear appeals of the accused under section 21 (1) the NIA Act as an order of framing of charges was an interlocutory or an interim order and not a final one. Section 21 (1) of NIA Act reads: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code, an appeal shall lie from any judgment, sentence or order, not being an interlocutory order, of a special court to the high court both on facts and on law.”
It rejected the NIA’s plea that special court’s order of framing of charges against Purohit and others was an “interlocutory” one and hence, the appeals of accused under the specific provision were not maintainable before the high court. “We are of the view that the preliminary objection raised by the counsel for NIA has no merit as the order impugned ... Cannot be termed as an interlocutory order within the meaning of sub-section (1) of section 21 of the NIA Act,” the High Court had said.
It had termed the appeals of Purohit, Thakur and Sameer Sharad Kulkarni against framing of charges as maintainable and said that it can hear them under provision. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Ashok Bhushan took note of submissions of senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for Nisar Ahmed Sayed Bilal that High Court order needed to be set aside.