In a first such case in Maharashtra, four policemen were convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail by a sessions court on Saturday for a 2013 custodial death of a 20-year-old at the Vanrai police station in Goregaon.
The policemen – Chandrakant Kambale, Kiran Pingale, Umesh Gosavi and Sandeep Salunkhe – were attached to the detection team of the police station when Aniket Khicchi and his accomplice Prakash Chavan alias Ratan Wani, 33, were caught in a theft case.
During questioning, Khicchi fell unconscious and was taken to Cooper Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival. Initially, a case of accidental death was registered and the probe was handed over to the Mumbai crime branch. Later, the four were booked for murder. The court, however, convicted them for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for causing hurt with common intentions.
The four sought leniency, pleading that they were doing their duty and had no intention of injuring Khicchi.
The prosecution heavily relied on medical evidence and the statement of Wani, the sole eyewitness, who narrated how they were beaten up in jail.
Sandeep Vishwashrao, the crime branch officer who investigated the case, said the prosecution examined 34 witnesses, but the evidence given by Wani proved to be crucial. “Wani had testified before the court about the assault. We also had the CCTV footage from the exhibition hall [where he was caught for stealing] that showed Khicchi being beaten inside a car while on the way to the police station,” he said.
While the prosecution sought for maximum punishment, the defense pleaded for leniency. The court sentenced them to seven years of imprisonment, with a set off for the period they have already spent in jail since their arrest in December 2013.