"During investigations, sufficient evidences have not been found against (the accused) and the NIA has submitted in the final report that the prosecution against them is not maintainable," the agency said, adding that no offence was established under the MCOCA in this case against anybody.
The premier probe agency did not rely on the confessionals recorded by the Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) under the dreaded MCOCA. The Sadhvi's lawyer Sanjiv Punalekar told IANS that the NIA had decided to drop charges against her because there was no sufficient evidence to prosecute her. "The charges against the six accused have been dropped while the charge sheet is being filed against the other remaining accused," Punalekar told IANS. The six accused were likely to be released from prisons soon, he told reporters. The Malegaon blast was the first terror case involving the hitherto unknown "Hindu extremists" and was initially investigated by police and the ATS later. The case finally went to the NIA which was formed in 2009, months after the November 16, 2008, Mumbai terror attack. Then ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who was killed in the Mumbai terror attack, initially led the probe and named 14 accused. Two more were declared absconding. The NIA earlier also maintained the list of the accused.
The Malegaon blast case probe had riled the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing groups, accusing the then Congress-led government of giving religious colour to terrorism by going after Hindutva activists without any evidence against them.
On Friday when the charges against the main accused were dropped, the Congress' Digvijaya Singh hit out at the NIA and the BJP-led government for safeguarding "terrorists". He also lashed out at the NIA for invalidating Hemant Karkare's probe.
"They are saying that Karkare filed a wrong report. We know you want to safeguard them (the accused) and we also know you have links with those who are involved in terror activities. They should at least spare a martyr," Digvijaya Singh said.
But the government denied there was any political interference in probe.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said: "The law is taking its natural course. The investigators now have the freedom to investigate without pressure unlike during the previous regime."