False claim: Sadhvi Pragya has been acquitted of terror charges

Sadhvi Pragya, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, will be contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket. News of Pragya’s nomination from Bhopal, MP had sparked a furore. On social media, several netizens hit out at the BJP for nominating a terror accused.

One of them was actor Swara Bhaskar, who lashed out at the ruling party, referring to Pragya as ‘Malegaon terror accused’ and ‘potential terrorist’. Quote-tweeting her, journalist and executive editor with Network 18, Amish Devgan tweeted that Pragya has been acquitted by the court.

Devgan’s tweet has been retweeted over 5000 times and ‘liked’ over 13000 times since he posted it on April 17. Apart from Devgan, several prominent pro-BJP handles have tweeted saying Sadhvi Pragya has been acquitted in the Malegaon blasts case.

The above tweet has been retweeted over 900 times so far. Other prominent handles which made the same assertion include RituRathaur and desimojito.

Sadhvi Pragya has NOT been acquitted 

An acquittal means a judgement which absolves an individual accused of a crime. The person in question is declared not guilty via a judgement. While the same could be challenged in a higher court (if the verdict has been delivered by a lower court), an acquittal is essentially an affirmation of non-guilt.  In the case of Sadhvi Pragya, it may be noted there has been no acquittal.

Sadhvi Pragya is currently out on bail. She was granted bail on health grounds. According to the bail order given by a Bombay High Court bench headed by Justices Shalini Phansalkar Joshi and Ranjit More, Sadhavi Pragya was given bail because she was “suffering from breast cancer” and was “cannot even walk without support”.

The trial of Sadhvi Pragya and others, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, is still underway. Pragya has been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In December 2017, a special NIA court had ruled that Sadhvi Pragya, Lt. Col Prashant Purohit and six others be charged under the UAPA.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, is “An Act to provide for the more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations [and for dealing with terrorist activities] and for matters connected therewith.” It was promulgated in 1967 and has been amended many times since then.

The court had however dropped the draconian Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against the accused. It may be noted that dropping of the MCOCA charges cannot be confused with an acquittal in any case as it specifically means that the person is absolved of the charges. Pragya’s role came under the scanner after the motorcycle used in the blast was reportedly registered in her name. According to the charge sheet filed by Maharastra’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), Pragya was part of most meetings of the radical activists from 2006, who had planned to attacks Muslim-majority areas. She also allegedly took charge of finding men to execute the attacks.

The fact of the matter is that Sadhvi Pragya has NOT been acquitted by the court over her alleged role in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case. The assertions made in this regard by pro-BJP social media users and some prominent figures are patently false.

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