More policemen could be in trouble over the alleged custodial death of Prevention Of Terrorism Act (POTA) detenue Khwaja Yunus who mysteriously disappeared on January 3, 2003.
The Bombay High Court on Saturday gave the Maharashtra government one last chance to reconsider sanctioning the prosecution of 10 police officers allegedly responsible for Yunus’ death.
“Does state [government] want to reconsider or should the court decide?” asked Justice J.N. Patel.
The high court had handed over the investigation to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which sought the prosecution of 14 officers.
In February, however, the government informed the court that it was granting sanction to prosecute only Police Sub Inspector Sachin Vaze and three constables in the case.
The division bench of Justice Patel and Justice Amjad Sayed will hear the matter next week.
Mihir Desai, advocate for Yunus’ mother Aasiya Begum, said, “The government is only prosecuting small fish. Main accused are not being prosecuted at all.”
Aasiya Begum had filed a petition in the HC seeking compensation from the state government alleging that Yunus, the only earning member of the family, was killed by police officers who booked him in a false case.
Yunus (25) was arrested in December 2002 for his alleged involvement in the bomb blast in a BEST bus in Ghatkopar on December 2, 2002.
According to police claims, Yunus ‘went missing’ after he fled their custody when they were taking him to Aurangabad for investigations and their jeep met with an accident.
However, Dr Abdul Mateen, one of the co-accused in the case, alleged that torture in police custody led to Yunus’ death and that the police had fabricated the escape theory to cover up his death. Mateen and Yunus were being interrogated in Ghatkopar police station.
The POTA court acquitted all the nine accused, including Mateen, due to lack of evidence.