Unable to risk personal presence in court during the pandemic, Special Public Prosecutor in the 2017 Manjula Shetye custodial death case Vidya Kasle, a senior citizen, has resigned.
Kasle has also given up six other cases in which she is the prosecutor including the 2015 Sakinaka model rape case in which the victim alleged rape by a policeman in the police chowky. Among the accused in the case are two more policemen.
In her resignation letter sent last Wednesday, Kasle said she has cited the pandemic, her age, co-morbidities and a court insisting on her personal presence in a case as reasons for her resignation.
“Courts have started insisting on personal presence. One of the courts rejected my application for a hearing on video-conferencing, being aware of my age,” she said.
When Kasle remained present the following day as per the court’s direction after it insisted on the prosecutor’s presence, she found the judge was on leave. “I had to wait for hours for a crowded in-charge court for it to hear the matter and there was no social distancing being followed, there were no sanitizers around,” she said.
The prosecutor, who started practice as a lawyer in 1974, was also currently handling a 2015 kidnapping for ransom case of Ghatkopar builder’s 21-year-old son. The victim in this case was released after 33 days of being held hostage and after paying a Rs. 2 crore ransom.
The Azad Maidan riots case of 2012 in which a rally to protest atrocities against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar had turned violent, is also one of the cases Kasle has resigned from. The incident had led to two deaths, injuries to 52, including police personnel who were on bandobast at the venue. Women police on duty had been molested.
With Kasle’s resignation, the 2013 Mahim building crash in which among the victims were son, wife and mother of prominent lawyer Rizwan Merchant, has also lost its prosecutor.
"If not for COVID-19, I would have definitely seen the cases through," said Kasle, adding that she fell short of completing 50 years in the profession.