Concerned over delay, the Bombay High Court today directed the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court in Mumbai to submit a fortnightly report on the progress of the trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

A Division Bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice V G Bisht also asked the NIA to submit the `Roznama' (record of the day's proceedings in the trial court) for the last month on August 1.

BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur is among the accused in the case. The High Court also said that the central probe agency must ensure that at least two witnesses are summoned every day for the recording of evidence instead of one.

The HC was hearing a petition filed in 2018 by Sameer Kulkarni, an accused, over the delay in the conclusion of the trial.

Last month, the HC had asked the special NIA court to submit a report on the status of the trial and also directed the NIA to file an affidavit on the same. The special court, in a report submitted on Wednesday, assured that the trial was being held on a day-to-day basis. A new judge took over on June 6, and since then 12 witnesses have been examined, it said.

The NIA in its affidavit said that out of 495 listed witnesses, the court has recorded the statements of 256, and the agency intends to examine 218 more witnesses.

"We deem it appropriate to call for a fortnightly report from the special NIA court judge to specify the progress of the trial," the High Court said.

"The NIA shall also submit the Roznama of the court of the last one month so we know who is delaying the trial, who is cooperating and who is not," the Bench added.

The judges also said that if a witness fails to remain present after being summoned, the NIA should consider issuing a bailable warrant.

"You (NIA) will have to summon more than one witnesses. Look at the time wastage if that one witness does not turn up. You will have to make arrangements to ensure that at least two witnesses are present," the Court said.

Kulkarni's petition argued that earlier the trial was to be completed by December 2020, but the deadline was extended to October 2021. The bench remarked that there must have been some delay due to COVID-19-related restrictions. The HC posted the matter for further hearing on August 1.

Six persons were killed and around 90 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a communally sensitive town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

With PTI inputs