Mumbai: The trial in the case of custodial death of Khwaja Yunus, alleged bomb blast accused of 2002 in a BEST bus in Ghatkopar, is likely to get delayed further with the Maharashtra government informing the Bombay High Court that it will not appoint new special public prosecutor (SPP) in the case till October 14. Four policemen including suspended police officer Sachin Waze are facing trial in the case.
The statement was made by additional public prosecutor Sangeeta Shinde after taking instructions from Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhkoni and the Law Department that the state government will not take any steps to appoint a new SPP in the case.
The government made the statement before a division bench of Justices Prasanna Varale and NR Borkar which is hearing a petition filed by Yunus’ mother Asiya Begam challenging removal of SPP Dhiraj Mirajkar in April 2018.
Begam, through her counsel Mihir Deasai, had approached the HC in 2018 after the state government removed Mirajkar as SPP.
Mirajkar was appointed SPP in the case on September 7, 2015 and was removed on April 16, 2018. The government decision had come after Mirajkar filed an application before a sessions court seeking summons to be issued against retired police officer Praful Bhosale and three other policemen and make them face trial on murder charges.
The application was filed after key prosecution witness, Mohammed Abdul Mateen, had deposed before the court claiming that he had seen Bhosale, then assistant police inspector Hemant Desai and two other policemen assault Yunus in police lock-up.
Government had said that the decision to remove Mirajkar was not to shield the four police officials. Kumbhkoni had said that the application was against the government view which had refused to sanction prosecution of these four policemen.
In view of this, the SPP (Mirajkar) should not have filed the application, contended the government while justifying his removal.
Yunus, a software engineer, was allegedly detained soon after the December 2002 Ghatkopar bomb blast case. He allegedly escaped from police custody in the intervening night of January 6-7, 2003, while being escorted to Aurangabad for further investigation when their jeep met with an accident near Ahmednagar.
Later, the Crime Investigation Department (CID), lodged an FIR against police officers for allegedly killing Yunus in custody and then destroying evidence.
The CID inquiry indicted 14 policemen but the government granted sanction to prosecute only four – Sachin Waze, Rajendra Tiwari, Rajaram Nikam and Sunil Desai – against whom the trial was being conducted. They are facing trial on charges of murder, voluntarily causing grievous hurt to extort confession, fabricating evidence, and criminal conspiracy in the case.
The government has faced repeated flak from the sessions judge for failing to appoint a SPP which has delayed the trial since April 2018.
Even on September 21, the government had informed the session court that it is taking steps to appoint a SPP in the case.