Already under fire for the security lapse that helped Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani escape from the sessions court last week, the Mumbai police had yet another embarrassing moment on Thursday.
The Thane jail officials triggered a major panic when they claimed that an accused in the August 22 gang rape of a photojournalist, Siraj Rehman Khan, was not in their custody, only to backtrack later and claim that the 24-year-old was indeed in prison.
Two days ago, principal sessions judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi had issued a production warrant for Khan directing the Thane jail officials to produce him before the court on Thursday.
However, when the case was called out, an official from the jail told the court that Khan had been handed over to the Mumbai crime branch. Hearing this, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam quickly clarified that Khan had been sent to judicial custody by the metropolitan magistrate court several days ago
“It seems that the accused is untraceable. The court should summon the jail superintendent to clarify the status,” Nikam said.The judge has summoned Thane jail superintendent on Friday for an explanation and adjourned the case.
“The special public prosecutor has said that the accused is not in the custody of the crime branch and is very much in jail. In such circumstances, the presence of the accused is essential and it is important to know where he is,” Phansalkar-Joshi said. Within an hour of the incident, Swathi Sathe, DIG prisons, clarified that Khan was in Thane jail.