A session court Friday found a 24-year-old man guilty for fatal assault and murder of a 52-year-old Mumbai police traffic constable in Khar in 2016. The quantum of his punishment will be pronounced Saturday.
The convict had assaulted Mumbai police constable Vilas Shinde with a bamboo stick on August 23, 2016, after the policeman had stopped the former’s 17-year-old brother for underage riding without proper documentation and helmet. Shinde, who was admitted to a hospital for treatment for head injuries, succumbed on August 31 that year.
According to the prosecution, led by special public prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade, on the day of the incident, Shinde was on duty near a petrol pump on Khar Road for a drive against helmet-less riding. The juvenile, who was riding a motorcycle, was stopped by Shinde for riding without a helmet, Bagade said. Shinde had asked the juvenile to show his driving licence and directed had him to summon his family members after taking the keys of his motorcycle, Bagade said. The juvenile allegedly had called his elder brother, the accused in the case.
The prosecution claimed that the accused came with a bamboo stick and hit Shinde on his head with it. He also kicked him on his chest, took the keys out of his pocket and fled with his brother.
The court relied on the account of an eyewitness, another constable, who was passing by when the incident took place. The eyewitness claimed that he had seen a man walk towards the petrol pump with a bamboo stick and decided to go ahead and see what was happening. The constable claimed that he saw another person, later identified as the juvenile, point towards Shinde and ask the other person to assault him. The eyewitness said that when he ran towards the accused and tried to catch him, the latter threatened him and other people at the petrol pump with the stick and fled on the motorcycle with his brother.
Shinde, who had fallen unconscious, was rushed to the hospital in an autorickshaw by the eyewitness. An FIR on charges of murder was registered against the accused and his brother after Shinde died eight days later. The police subsequently arrested the accused from a guesthouse, where he was undergoing training for a seaman’s course.
The accused, in his defence, had claimed that he was not present at the spot at the time of the incident and that the motorcycle in question was not registered in his name.
He claimed that the police had not recorded the statement of the owner of the motorcycle and, therefore, it could not be proved that he had it in his possession.
The accused also claimed that the police had wrongly alleged that the bamboo stick and the bike were recovered at his behest and that the keys of the bike were recovered from his room at the guesthouse in Navi Mumbai.
Among the other evidences and witnesses presented before the court were two doctors who had treated Shinde.
The juvenile, who was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board, was subsequently ordered to be tried as an adult under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. The Act, which was amended in 2015, made provisions for children in conflict with the law to be tried as adults in heinous offences.
His trial, however, remained separate from his elder brother, as per the Act. An appeal regarding this is pending before the Bombay High Court.
On Friday, the accused pleaded with the court to consider the offence under section 304 (II) for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
“As per the evidence, that you had carried a bamboo [stick] to the spot, hit the victim, kicked him and then took the keys out of the pocket before fleeing, shows intent… It cannot be a case for culpable homicide, but is that of murder,” the court said.
The arguments on the quantum of punishment will be held Saturday.
An accused found guilty under IPC section 302, attracts the minimum punishment of life imprisonment.
Shinde’s death had led to an outcry and led to demands for enhancing the safety of policemen. Shinde’s son Deepesh was later recruited as a sub-inspector in the state police.
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