- Lt Col Prasad Purohit is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case
- Seven people were killed in the blast
- The Bombay High Court had rejected his bail earlier this year
He had moved the top court after the Bombay High Court rejected bail earlier this year. The National Investigating Agency or NIA, which handles terror cases, had opposed bail for the Armyman alleging there is evidence of Lt Col Purohit's involvement in the Malegaon blast that killed seven people.
Senior lawyer Harish Salve, who appeared for Lt Col Purohit, argued that he has been in jail for the past nine years but charges have still not been framed against him. Mr Salve also said that charges under Maharashtra's tough law against crime and terrorism, MCOCA, have been dropped against Lt Col Purohit and so he should be granted interim bail.
Lt Col Purohit's wife Aparna was in tears after the court announced bail for her husband. "It is a big relief," she said with tears in her eyes.
On September 29, 2008, two bombs fitted on a motorcycle exploded in Malegaon, a textile town around 270 km from Mumbai, killing seven people and injuring over 100. A former leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was arrested in October that year and Lt Col Purohit in November and both were charged with plotting the blasts as part of a pro-Hindu group, Abhinav Bharat.
The High Court had in April this year granted bail to Sadhvi Pragya, but did not do so for Lt Col Purohit.
Lt Col Purohit is accused of floating Abhinav Bharat, collecting huge funds and using them to procure arms and explosives and also organising meetings where the Malegaon attack was planned.
He has all through pleaded that he was assigned by military intelligence to infiltrate various terror organisations and that his superiors were constantly in the loop about his actions and associations with Abhinav Bharat. He has claimed that the statements of witnesses against him are fabricated and that due process was not followed in prosecuting him as an officer of the Indian Army.
Last year, he had written to then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, claiming he had been falsely implicated in the case. "I have been robbed of honour, dignity and rank and punished for serving the nation," the letter read.
The Malegoan blasts case was first investigated by Maharashtra's Anti-Terror Squad, with its chief Hemant Karkare leading the probe. Mr Karkare was killed battling the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
A special MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) court later ruled that the Anti-Terrorist Squad had wrongly applied the law against the Sadhvi, Lt Col Purohit and nine others.
The NIA, which took over the case in April 2011, recommended prosecuting Lt Colonel Srikant Purohit for conspiracy and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. It had however dropped charges against Sadhvi Pragya and five others saying there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them.