Seven months after it registered the first information report against police officers in connection with the alleged custodial death of 22-year-old Altaf Shaikh, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) yet to act against the officers.
This has upset the Bombay High Court, which has asked the CBI to file a progress report on the investigation on July 1 and ensure the probe is complete by July 31.
“Progress in the investigation is not up to the mark… There is much more than meets the eye,” said Justice B.H. Marlapalle while hearing a petition filed by Altaf’s mother Mehrunissa.
The CBI had on November 27, 2009, lodged an FIR against Sub-Inspector Sanjay Khedekar, head constable Raghunath Kolekar, police nayak Sayaji Thombre and nayak tahsildar V.V. Rane for their alleged role in Altaf’s custodial death.
The CBI’s lawyer, Kiran K, said that all the documents were in Marathi and needed to be translated.
“Besides, the CBI has other cases (to investigate) and they are short staffed,” the lawyer said.
The argument did not go down well with the division bench of Justice Marlapalle and Justice Anoop Mohta.
“That is a very standard reply. We are not impressed,” Justice Marlapalle said. “The court, in October 2009, while handing over the probe to CBI had directed that a progress report be filed. Again another division bench in April 2010 asked you to comply with the orders and submit a report. Even after seven months, you have not filed a single progress report.”
Mehrunissa’s advocate, Yug Chaudhary, said for the last nine years Maharashtra has been leading in custodial deaths. “Till date, there has been no prosecution of any police officer, let alone conviction,” Chaudhary said.
He added that Assistant Commissioner of Police Prakash Wani of the Crime Branch, who was asked to conduct an inquiry into the matter, had filed an affidavit giving a clean chit to the officers despite glaring differences in the post-mortem report and the inquest panchnama.
The police had picked up Altaf on September 11, 2009, in the morning.
Hours later, he was taken to Rajawadi Hospital at Ghatkopar, where he died. His mother alleged that he had died of police torture.