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Khwaja Yunus custodial death: Contempt notice sent to police chief, home dept for reinstating accused cops

The notice sent on behalf of Yunus’s mother, Asiya Begum, states that the four policemen, reinstated last week, were not made to undergo a disciplinary inquiry, as was directed by the Bombay High Court in 2004.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: June 13, 2020 3:57:46 am
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, Khwaja Yunus custodial death Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. (Express photo by Mohammed Thaver)

A contempt notice has been sent to the Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and the state Home department on Friday for the reinstatement of four policemen facing trial for the custodial death of 27-year-old Khwaja Yunus.

The notice sent on behalf of Yunus’ mother, Asiya Begam, states the four men who were reinstated last week to the Mumbai Police, were not made to undergo a disciplinary inquiry, as was directed by the Bombay High Court in 2004.

Sent through email, the notice further states that the decision to reinstate them was, therefore, in contempt of the court’s order and hence should be withdrawn.

Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze and constables Rajendra Tiwari, Sunil Desai, and Rajaram Nikam are currently facing trial on charges, including murder and destruction of evidence for the alleged custodial torture of Yunus in 2003. They were suspended in 2004.

Last week, a review committee under the chairmanship of the police chief had ordered for them to be reinstated in the force pending ‘preliminary/ departmental inquiry’ and judicial trial.

The contempt notice filed by a lawyer representing Begam said that a habeas corpus writ was filed before the High Court in the case of the torture and disappearance of Yunus. The notice states the court in 2004 had directed that the accused be suspended and a disciplinary inquiry is started against them, “as they have been prima facie involved in the offence”.

The notice also states that despite the order, the inquiry was not conducted and hence it amounts to contempt and disobedience of the court’s order.

“It must be noted that the suspension and department inquiry was ordered by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court. In the event you wanted to revoke the suspension, it was obligatory on you to seek the permission of the Bombay High Court,” the notice says. It adds, if the reinstatement order is not revoked within seven days, the court will be approached.

Yunus, a Parbhani resident, was an engineer who worked in Dubai. The 27-year-old was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on December 25, 2002, along with three others in connection with a blast which took place on December 2 in Ghatkopar. Yunus was last seen on January 6, 2003, when he was being interrogated. The men arrested with him had later informed the POTA court that Yunus was severely tortured.

The police had claimed that Yunus had escaped from custody while being taken for further probe. Based on the testimony of his then co-accused, an FIR was registered against the four policemen.

The three co-accused were subsequently were acquitted by the trial court of all charges.

So far, the first witness has deposed before a fast-track court in Mumbai in 2018 where the four policemen are being tried.

Police commissioner Singh did not respond to texts. An official from the Home Department said that the notice will be looked into.

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