In the Khwaja Yunus alleged custodial death case, the Maharashtra government told the court on Thursday that it wants to file a say on the application by special public prosecutor representing the government itself. Dhiraj Mirajkar, the special public prosecutor (SPP), who is conducting the trial, had last month filed an application seeking to make four more policemen stand trial as accused for the death of Yunus, a software engineer from Parbhani, allegedly caused in police custody in 2003.
While it was not revealed what stand the government wanted to take on the four policemen, the move prompted the Judge to point out that the SPP is also representing the state. The court, however, said that it was necessary to give an opportunity to the state and granted time for a say to be filed.
Currently, Mirajkar, representing the Criminal Investigation Department, is conducting the trial for the state. On Thursday, Lata Chheda, the chief public prosecutor of the Mumbai district city civil and sessions court, said she had been informed that the state wants to file a say. She filed an application on directions of the court stating as per directions received from the Law and
Judiciary department, a response is sought to be filed by the state. “He (Mirajkar) is also for the state,” said additional sessions judge V S Padalkar on the state’s application. Subhash Jha, the advocate for the four policemen, who have opposed Mirajkar’s plea to make them accused, said that as long as a notification issued by the state government appointing Mirajkar was in force, another prosecutor cannot come into the picture. Chheda, however, said that if directed, she was entitled to appear for the state.
“…we are not dealing nor the court is concerned at this juncture as to who is representing the state and in whose favour the power is given by the state. So as to decide the controversy, it is necessary that an opportunity be given to chief public prosecutor to submit reply,” the court said.
Last month, Mirajkar had filed an application after the deposition of the first witness in the case who named four policemen claiming that he had seen them assault Yunus. The witness, along with Yunus, was arrested by the Mumbai police for alleged involvement in a blast at Ghatkopar in 2002. The police claimed that Yunus had escaped on January 6, 2003 from the custody, but based on the co-accused’s statement, an FIR was registered against policemen. Currently, four are facing trial for Yunus’ alleged killing, while the state had refused to grant sanction to prosecute ten other policemen.
Mirajkar’s plea said based on the deposition of the witness who named four officials, it can be said that they are responsible by their acts of commission or omission for the death of Yunus in custody. The four policemen are Praful Bhosale (retired as ACP Crime Branch), Rajaram Vhanmane (currently senior police inspector at Dindoshi police station), Ashok Khot (currently senior police inspector at crime branch unit 5) and Hemant Desai (till recently a senior police inspector at the Local Arms unit).