HC directs CBI court to charge three policemen with murder in 2009 custodial death case | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC directs CBI court to charge three policemen with murder in 2009 custodial death case

ByK A Y Dodhiya
Mar 28, 2023 12:47 AM IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday directed the trial court to frame charges of murder and voluntarily causing hurt against three police officials for the custodial death of Altaf Kadir Shaikh on September 11, 2009

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday directed the trial court to frame charges of murder and voluntarily causing hurt against three police officials for the custodial death of Altaf Kadir Shaikh on September 11, 2009. The HC said that in light of the findings of the forensic lab, which stated that Shaikh had died due to contusions on the head, the special CBI court judge had erred in not charging the police officials, then attached to Ghatkopar police station, with murder.

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The HC judgement was passed on a petition filed by Mehrunnisa Kadir Shaikh, mother of the deceased. She had claimed that the three police officials, namely sub-inspector Sanjay Khedekar, head constable Raghunath Kodekar and police naik Sayaji Thombare, had badly beaten her son while taking him away from their home at 4 am for investigation in some case. The petition claimed that as her son was rushed to Rajawadi Hospital at 9.30 am and was declared dead before admission, the police officials were guilty of murder and hence should be prosecuted accordingly.

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The single-judge bench of Justice Prakash Deu Naik, which had heard the petition filed in 2019 and reserved judgement in July 2022, held that in light of various Supreme Court judgements regarding custodial deaths, the special judge had failed to take note of it and passed orders for lesser charges on January 3, 2018; hence the order was being quashed and set aside. The bench also took note of the November 3, 2014 order of the magistrate who, after analysing the documents on record, had opined that offences under Sections 302, 323 and 342 of the IPC should be made out as there were human rights violations by the accused.

The special court order had directed a transfer of proceedings to the magistrate court for trial of offences punishable under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the IPC.

While arguing against the special court order, advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry submitted that an offence was made out under Section 302 of the IPC, and such a charge ought to have been framed against the respondent police officials. Chaudhry argued that the special court order was “contrary to law and evidence on record”, as the conduct of the three police officials was “suspicious” from the start. Chaudhary had submitted that the inquest panchanama was fabricated by suppressing injuries on the body, and despite the findings of the court, the CBI had dropped murder charges.

The police had claimed that Shaikh was a drug addict and had consumed alcohol when he was picked up, and the post-mortem report had indicated death due to sub-arachnoid (brain) haemorrhage due to drug overdose. However, Shaikh’s mother Mehrunisa filed a petition in the HC in 2010, seeking action against the police personnel responsible for her son’s death, after which the case was transferred from the crime branch to the CBI.

In the October 2010 order, the HC had taken cognisance of the policemen’s conduct and held that prima facie the death of Altaf had taken place in the police station as a result of torture.

According to the FIR, the three police officials on September 11, 2009 at 4 am, came to Altaf’s residence and picked him up and took him to Ghatkopar police station. Around 9 am, a senior police inspector, while on his routine rounds, noticed Altaf sleeping in the detention room. When he tried to awaken him, Altaf did not respond and hence was immediately rushed to Rajawadi Hospital, where he was declared dead before being admitted.

In light of the principles enunciated in several decisions of the apex court and factual matrix of the case, Justice Naik noted in the order, “It will have to be held the learned Sessions Judge/Special Judge has passed erroneous order while dealing with issue of framing charge and remitted the case back to the trial Court for prosecution of the Accused for offences under Sections 120-B r/w 323, 342 of IPC… The impugned order passed by the Special/Sessions Court is required to be set aside.”

“The Special Judge (CBI)/ Sessions Court is directed to frame charges against the… three police officials… for offences under Sections 120-B r/w 302, 330 & 342 IPC… and proceed with the case expeditiously. The trial Court is directed to conclude the trial… within a period of one year from the date of receipt of this order.”

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