The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Friday that despite its order, no departmental or disciplinary inquiry was conducted against the four police officers accused in the custodial death of Khwaja Yunus in 2003.
The State’s response came after a Division Bench of Justices A.A. Sayed and N.R. Borkar asked the government counsel if any departmental inquiry was carried out against the four officers as per the previous order of the HC. The Bench then directed the State to file a detailed affidavit in reply, and adjourned the matter for two weeks.
Yunus (27) was arrested by the Powai CID on December 25, 2002, following the Ghatkopar bomb blast. Two days later, his brother, who visited him in Mumbai, found him weak and unable to stand. On January 6, 2003, Yunus had either died in custody at the Powai unit or thereafter, while being taken to a prison in Aurangabad.
Assistant police inspector Sachin Hindurao Vaze and police constables Rajendra Rajmani Tiwari, Sunil Vasant Desai and Rajaram Kisan Nikam were charged with Sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) of the Indian Penal Code. They were suspended in 2004, and Mr. Vaze resigned in 2007.
However, on June 6, 2020, all the four officers were reinstated. On June 12 this year, Yunus’s mother 72-year-old Asiya Begum sent a contempt notice to Param Bir Singh, Commissioner of Police, who is also the chairman of the review committee set up for review of the suspension orders of various officers of the Mumbai Police, to withdraw the revocation of their suspension.
Soon thereafter, Ms. Asiya filed a petition through advocate Chetan Mali. The petition said that on April 7, 2004, the HC had said, “Till date, no disciplinary action has been taken against Mr. Vaze and the three absconding police constables. We find from the record that the investigation conducted by the State has been totally shoddy and improper. Hence, we direct the State government to suspend all the three constables and Mr. Vaze immediately, and start a disciplinary inquiry against them as they have been prima facie found to be involved in the offence.”