A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said that the court had found “no prima facie evidence against” Thakur and ordered that she be released on bail provided she deposits a cash surety of rupees five lakh.
The bench also directed Thakur to deposit her passport with the NIA court and to report to the NIA as and when required.
The bench however, rejected a similar plea seeking bail filed by Thakur’s co-accused Prasad Purohit, and thus, denied him bail.
Thakur and Purohit had both filed appeals in HC challenging orders of a lower court that had rejected their respective bail pleas.
The high court had reserved its order in February this year, after conducting hearings on both pleas on almost a daily basis for about a month.
Thakur had challenged the lower court order rejecting her bail, arguing that the court had failed to take cognisance of the change in circumstances in her case considering that the National Investigating Agency (NIA) had declared in its chargesheet that it had not found any evidence against her and that prosecution against her be dropped.
NIA on its part submitted before the High Court that it had “no objections” to Thakur’s plea, or to the court granting her bail. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad that had initially probed the case had raised its hands up, when asked by the court for its opinion, and said that the ball was now in the NIA’s court and it wasn’t the ATS’ prerogative anymore to support or oppose the plea.
However, the same NIA had opposed Purohit’s plea for bail and submitted that there existed adequate “prima facie evidence in the form of audio and video recordings, call detail records, and witness statements, to suggest Purohit played a major role in conspiring for, and executing the blasts.”
NIA’s counsel advocate Sandesh Patil had argued that both NIA’s own chargesheet and the one filed by the Maharashtra ATS established that Purohit had “participated in conspiracy meetings, given provocative speeches, agreed to get explosives for the act etc.”
NIA had also argued that it “did not want the ATS chargesheet completely obliterated,” and that the court must “consider both chargesheets.”
Purohit on the other hand had argued through the previous hearings that NIA had been “selective” in exonerating some accused persons and that the agency had made him a “scapegoat” in the case.
He had also claimed that the evidence against him was manufactured by the ATS, and that he had already spent eight years in custody as an undertrial.
The interveners in the case, the families of some of the victims of the blast, meanwhile, had argued that the pleas be denied for there exist ample evidence in the ATS’ chargesheet to establish that Thakur and Purohit were some of the main conspirators of the blasts that had killed eight persons and injured 80 others.