The Bombay High Court on Monday directed that murder charges be framed against three police officials – then police sub-inspector Sanjay Khedekar, head constable Raghunath Kolekar and police naik Sayaji Thombre – in relation of the death of a 22-year-old Altaf Kadir Shaikh at Ghatkopar police station in September 2009.
Justice PD Naik also directed that the trial against the police officials be concluded expeditiously, preferably within a year. The court has asked all the three accused policemen to appear before the trial court on April 24.
Altaf's mother challenged special CBI court order in 2018
Altaf Shaikh, an alleged drug addict and a history-sheeter, died at the police station on September 11, 2009. He died within hours of being picked up as a suspect in a case of house break-in.
The HC passed the order while hearing a plea by Altaf’s mother, Mehrunnisa Kadir Shaikh, challenging the order of the special CBI court of January 3, 2018, by which it transferred the proceedings to the Magistrate court for trial for criminal conspiracy, voluntarily causing hurt and wrongful confinement.
Police claims Shaikh was an addict
Seeking no quashing of the special court’s order, Shaikh’s advocate Yug Chaudhry argued that the offense disclosed was under Section 302 of IPC for murder. He claimed that the inquest ‘panchnama’ was fabricated by suppressing injuries on the body. The plea said despite court directions, CBI had “erroneously dropped” the murder charges.
However, the police claimed that Shaikh was a drug addict and had consumed alcohol when he was picked up. The probe indicated death due to sub-arachnoid (brain) haemorrhage due to drug overdose.
HC transferred the case from CID to CBI in 2010
Following Shaikh’s petition, the HC, in October 2010, transferred the case from the Detection of Crime Branch, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Mumbai Police, to the CBI. At the time, the HC had made several observations regarding conduct of police, and held that prima facie the death of Altaf had taken place in the police station “as a result of torture”.
The HC had asked the CBI to lodge an FIR not only against the pllice officials but also against the persons who conducted the inquest ‘panchnama’. They were then charged with murder, destruction/disappearance of evidence and voluntarily causing hurt to extort a confession.
The HC had stayed the proceedings before the trial court on January 6, 2022. After hearing both the parties, the HC had reserved the order on July 29, 2022. The judge quashed the order of the special CBI court observing that the “special judge passed erroneous order while dealing with the issue of framing charge.”
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