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Pragya Thakur's absence hampering blast trial, says court; seeks report on her health from NIA

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Mumbai, Apr 3 (PTI) A special court here on Wednesday observed that BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur's absence in the September 2008 Malegaon blast case trial was hampering the proceedings, and asked the NIA to submit a report on her health.

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The court passed the order after the Member of Parliament from Bhopal, a prime accused in the case, sought another exemption from appearance citing health problems.

A K Lahoti, special judge for National Investigation Agency cases, asked the central agency to verify her health condition and submit a report by April 8.

The court had on March 11 issued a bailable warrant against the Bhopal MP for failing to attend the proceedings despite being specifically directed.

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The warrant was cancelled on March 22 after Thakur appeared before the court. But she failed to appear after that.

While granting her exemption on March 28, the court had directed Thakur to appear on April 3, warning that a non-bailable warrant would be issued against her otherwise.

On Wednesday, her lawyer again sought exemption, claiming that the nature of her ailments was severe. Her physical condition was beyond her control and she was seeking treatment at her home in Bhopal on doctors' advice, the application said.

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A doctor, after examining her, advised her bed rest and a certificate has been provided with the application, it said.

The NIA, however, told the court that as Thakur was not in Mumbai, it could not verify her claims.

"The directions which were given from time to time are well within the knowledge of advocates appearing on behalf of Thakur and the delay is caused due to absence of the accused. Hence, considering the aforesaid aspects, a necessary order be passed," the NIA submitted.

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The court noted that statement of the accused was being recorded under section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (where an accused can explain, in person, any circumstances appearing in the evidence against him or her).

"She has been absent since long except on 22/03/2024. On 22/03/2024, accused no 1 (Thakur) appeared before the court and considering her physical and medical condition, she was allowed to leave the court," it said.

The accused's presence was necessary to record her statement and her absence was hampering the court proceedings, the judge added.

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The certificate produced by her lawyer states that Thakur is suffering from cervical-spondylitis and migraine, but prescription, treatment papers and test papers have not been submitted, and therefore, "verification of the health condition is required," the court said.

"NIA, Mumbai, can make correspondence with their unit at Bhopal and verify the health condition and submit the report accordingly on or before April 8," the order said while exempting Thakur from appearance for the day.

Six people were killed and more than 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a communally sensitive town about 200 km from Mumbai in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

The case was initially probed by the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police before it was transferred to the NIA. PTI AVI KRK

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