New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed for three more weeks the Bombay High Court order allowing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to interrogate the 2008 Malegaon blast accused Lt Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi in its custody.

Purohit had approached the apex court against the High Court's October 20 order which had dismissed his petition against the decision of the trial court allowing NIA take him from the judicial custody to interrogate him.

However, the High Court had stayed its order for eight weeks till December 20 to enable him to seek redressal before the Apex Court.

A Bench comprising justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad sought responses from NIA, the Centre and Maharashtra government on the petition filed by Purohit challenging the High Court order which had upheld the order of the MCOCA court. The court posted the matter for further hearing on January 4 after advocate U U Lalit and Neela Gokhale, appearing for Purohit, submitted the order allowing custodial interrogation was wrong as he was sent to judicial custody after the probe in the case was complete.

The bench also issued notices to NIA and others on Purohit's seeking bail in the case.

Another accused in the case, Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi, also challenged the order of the High Court and the trial court allowing    NIA to take him from judicial custody for his custodial interrogation.

Dwivedi's case was argued by U R Lalit and Manoj Prasad and they also took the same ground as taken by Purohit to assail the orders of the High Court and the trial court. Purohit's bail was rejected on November 9 by the High Court which had allowed liberty to another co-accused Ajay Rahirkar on certain conditions.

"Lt. Colonel Purohit was not just involved in talking about Hindu rashtra but is alleged to have been instrumental in making RDX available," the High Court had said while rejecting his bail.

"Reliability of evidence about his bragging to a witness that he had RDX in his possession and the evidence about finding of RDX on a cotton swab would have to be decided at trial. Therefore, he would not be entitled to bail," the High Court had said.

Rahirkar was ordered to be released on bail on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh with one or more solvent sureties of the same amount.

The judge asked Rahirkar to scrupulously keep himself away from all witnesses and report at the office of NIA or its representative in Mumbai once a month on a convenient date to be fixed by the trial court till the case is over. 

Purohit was arrested and issued a charge sheet in connection with the Malegaon bomb blast that had occurred on September 29, 2008 leaving seven persons dead.

Co-accused also include sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi and Rakesh Dhawade.

Thakur's bail plea was dismissed by the Apex Court in September.

According to the prosecution, the accused had formed an organisation Abhinav Bharat Trust at Pune in 2006 with headquarters at the address of Rahirkar. It was registered on February 9, 2007. They allegedly took an oath to strive to turn India into a Hindu rashtra called Aryawart. It was alleged that the members met from time to time to discuss various aspects for achieving their goal. Accused Shankaracharya is stated to have recorded conversations at the meetings and these recordings are the foundation of the case built up against the two applicants.

Approval for applying provisions of MCOCA in this case was granted on November 20, 2008, and the applicants were booked for offences under this stringent act.

Purohit and Rahirkar along with others were issued charge sheet for offences under various enactments including MCOCA.

On July 31, 2009, the special judge held that charges against them under MCOCA did not survive and discharged them.

He directed that the case be placed before regular sessions court to try them for other offences and therefore rejected their applications for bail.

The state challenged the order discharging the accused from offences under MCOCA before the High Court.

(Agencies)