Army directed to reopen Purohit probe

The armed forces tribunal on 9 March has directed the army to reopen the Court of Inquiry against Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, an accused in the Malegaon blast case. According to the tribunal the investigation against Purohit suffers from the vice of irregularity. On a petition filed by Purohit, Justice S.S Kulshreshtha observed that some witnesses were examined in the absence of Purohit by the Army which is violation of Army rule.

The army regulation says that any officers and personnel being investigated in court of inquiry must be physically present and also be allowed to cross-examine witnesses. The bench headed by Justice S S Kulshrestha said, “The Court of Inquiry suffers from the vice of irregularity.... It would be just and proper to direct the Army to further convene the CoI from the state when the statements of the witnesses were recorded on September 1, 2010 in absence of Purohit.” The bench also observed, “From the perusal of the entire material on record, it appears certain witnesses were examined on September 1, 2010, wherein Purohit had no opportunity to cross-examine them.”

The court of inquiry began on 7 April, 2009 and ended on 1 September 2010. During these periods the statements of all witnesses were recorded.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2011 on page no. 4

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