Mumbai: A Sessions Court hearing the custodial death case of Byculla jail inmate Manjula Shetye, on Tuesday directed the relatives of the accused policewomen in the case to leave the courtroom and wait outside, after the prosecution made a plea that the witness was feeling threatened by their presence in the courtroom.
When the witness’ deposition was ongoing last month, Special Public Prosecutor Vidya Kasle had orally informed the judge about the witness feeling threatened. On Tuesday, she filed a plea before Additional Sessions Judge KS Hore to direct the relatives of the accused policewomen be send out of the courtroom, as the deposition of the witness was to continue.
The application stated that during the examination-in-chief of the witness on January 27, 2020, she (the witness) had complained to court that the relatives of the accused who were standing opposite her were threatening her by making signs. Thereafter, the plea said, that the witness was so disturbed that in answers to questions, she had said that she did not remember. Stating that the situation is affecting the deposition of the witness, the application prayed that the relatives be asked to go out of the courtroom.
Last month, the witness – a jail inmate of the deceased, seemed distressed throughout her deposition. At one point, towards the end of her testimony, she had turned towards the judge and expressed her concerns about those relatives – mostly husbands of the policewomen, who were watching her depose, standing diagonally opposite the witness box. Thereafter, SPP Kasle had also informed the judge about the witness feeling threatened.
The inmate is an eye witness and had told court during her last deposition that she had seen the jailor and five guards take turns to beat Shetye, an assault to which she succumbed a day later in hospital. She had identified jailor Manisha Pokharkar and five jail guards – Bindu Naikode, Wasima Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaonkar, Surekha Gavle and Aarti Shingne in court and narrated how they had dragged Shetye by the hair and taken turns beating her with a stick while she screamed for help.