Five days after it took up the matter, the Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to book three Mumbai policemen for murder in the Altaf Sheikh custodial death case.
The 22-year-old chauffeur, taken from his home at 3 am on September 11 on robbery charges, died the same evening.
While the police claimed he died from a drug overdose, his body bore several external and internal injuries and there was no evidence of drug use, a post-mortem report said.
On Friday, a division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A.R. Joshi said they “neither trust the executive magistrate nor the DCB-CID [Crime Branch] to conduct a fair inquiry”.
The high court also slammed the executive magistrate, who conducted the inquest in the case.
“The police wanted to hush up the matter, which is conclusive from the inquest panchanama, which was made hurriedly,” the bench observed.
“When one reads the inquest panchanama, one comes to a conclusion that it was tailor-made to protect the police…. it is manufactured to help the police.”
“It is completely negated by the post-mortem conducted by five doctors,” the bench added.
Rejecting the state’s plea for a stay so that the matter could be appealed in the Supreme Court, the division bench ordered the immediate suspension of the three officers.
Altaf’s mother Mehrunisa had moved the high court earlier this week, alleging that her son was tortured to death by the Ghatkopar police.
Directing the CBI to register a case of murder, destruction of evidence and causing grievous hurt with the intention to extort a confession, the high court bench on Friday ordered the CBI superintendent of police to conduct the inquiry “in all earnestness and unmoved by any observation in the [high court] order”.
Meanwhile, the three policemen — Police Sub-Inspector Sanjay Khedekar (43), Head Constable Raghunath Kolekar (48) and Police Naik Sayaji Thombre (45) — have not yet been suspended.
“We have not yet received the suspension order from the senior officers,” said Senior Inspector C. Zendekar.