Even as the prosecution filed an application on Thursday that it does not want to press ‘at this stage’ its plea of 2018 in which it had sought that four more policemen be tried as accused in the custodial death case of 27-year-old software engineer Khwaja Yunus in 2003, Yunus’s mother Asiya Begum filed a plea seeking that they be made to face trial.
Presently, controversial dismissed policemanSachin Vaze who was then with the ATS and three constables are facing trial. The earlier special public prosecutor Dhiraj Mirajkar had made the plea that the court join another four policemen - retired ACP Praful Bhosale, Hemant Desai, Rajaram Vhanmane and Ashok Khot - as accused. The plea was on the basis of the testimony of a prosecution witness, a doctor, who had been picked up with Yunus in connection with the 2002 Ghatkopar bus blast and had testified about the assault and torture of Yunus while in police custody. Mirajkar had been terminated as the prosecutor two months after the plea.
While named in the chargesheet, it was for want of sanction from the state government to prosecute them, that the charges against the four policemen had not been framed. Asiya Begum had then approached the Bombay High Court seeking that it direct the state government to grant a sanction. The HC had not interfered with the government’s decision and she had then challenged the HC’s decision in the apex court. Her petition is pending before the top court. Meanwhile, the SC had asked the trial court to decide on the 2018 plea.
In her plea filed through advocate Chetan Mali on Thursday, the mother has stated that during the hearing before the SC, the state had not made any submissions regarding withdrawal of its plea. She called its attempt now “illegal” and not tenable in law. She sought that the state’s plea for withdrawal be dismissed.
On the last date, newly appointed Special Public Prosecutor Pradip Gharat had informed the court that the prosecution intends to withdraw the plea. The plea filed on Thursday, however, stated that the plea is not pressed “at this stage” and that it reserves its liberty to act against the proposed accused depending on the apex court’s order. The plea said that the HC’s order and observations (while not interfering with the non-grant of sanction) stands binding and that while they subsist, the trial against the present accused cannot be kept in abeyance for an indefinite period. It said the trial has to proceed against the present accused. The court asked advocate Mali by what locus the plea of Begum is filed. It heard arguments and is expected to pass an order on Sep 7.