SC to hear Pragya''s bail plea on Feb 23, sadhvi claims torture

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New Delhi, Jan 31(PTI)The Supreme Court today posted forFebruary 23 the final hearing on the bail application moved byMalegaon bomb blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, who hasclaimed she has been tortured and verbally abused by the ATS.

A bench of justices J M Panchal and H L Gokhale postedthe matter for final hearing after listening to arguments atlength put forward by senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalaniappearing for Thakur.

Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town inNasik district of Maharashtra. The probe into the blast hadbrought into focus some right-wing Hindu groups.

Jethmalani submitted that Thakur was entitled to bailas Maharashtra''s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had failed to filethe charge sheet against her within the mandatory 90 days ofher arrest on October 23, 2008.

The counsel alleged that the accused had been subjectedto harassment, physical torture and verbal abuses by the ATSsquad during her "illegal" custody from October 10, 2008onwards.

He contended the authorities had violated section160 CrPC under which any woman suspect or accused ought to bequestioned at the place where she is residing and beforesunset.

But in the case of Thakur, he said, though she wasliving a renounced way of life as a sadhvi, the ATS squadcompelled the accused to come all the way from her ashram inJabalapur to Surat and Mumbai in the name of questioning evenwithout issuing formal summons as required under the CrPC.

Maharashtra Government counsel Asha Nair, however, tookthe plea that Thakur was arrested on October 23 and producedbefore a magistrate as required under the law.

The state said it would furnish all necessary recordsto prove the alleged involvement of the accused and detailsrelating to her arrest and questioning.

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