Yunus, a 27-year-old software engineer, was arrested in December 2002 for questioning in the Ghatkopar bomb blast case. He was last seen alive on January 6, 2003, when the others arrested along with him said he was brutally assaulted in custody.
The sessions court conducting the trial into the custodial death of Khwaja Yunus on Tuesday again rapped the CID and the prosecution for the slow progress in the case pending for the last 12 years. Additional Sessions Judge Dr U J More said that the prosecution had taken a “lackadaisical” approach in conducting the trial.
“Record reveals that despite repeated notices and letters to police officers and prosecution, there is no concrete progress. There is a failure of police to take appropriate measures for speedy trial, which is stuck for more than 12 years without any fault of the victim.
There is a lackadaisical approach on part of the prosecution in a serious case of custodial death,” the court said.
Last month, the court had been informed that no special public prosecutor has been appointed in the case after the removal of previous prosecutor Dhiraj Mirajkar in 2018.
On Tuesday, Chief Public Prosecutor Jaising Desai and Deputy Superintendent of Police Irfan Shaikh informed the court that a proposal to appoint a new prosecutor has been approved by the additional chief secretary (Home) and it is now before the law and judiciary department. Desai sought time till the process was complete.
The court also asked lawyer Chetan Mali, representing Yunus’ mother Asiya Begum, regarding the pending petitions before the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. Mali told the court that a plea to reappoint Mirajkar is pending before the HC and is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday.
He added that the state had given an oral assurance to the HC earlier that till the petition is decided, the process to appoint a new prosecutor will not progress.
The court said that in the absence of assistance from the state, the victim should step forward but the case has remained stalled and that there was no stay on the trial. “Will it be easy for witnesses to recall what happened 12 years ago? There have been Supreme Court orders on this aspect… the sooner the witnesses are examined, the better it is,” the court said.
It granted the state CID a month to submit a progress report on the appointment of the prosecutor and also directed Mali to submit a report on the pending petitions.
Yunus, a 27-year-old software engineer, was arrested in December 2002 for questioning in the Ghatkopar bomb blast case. He was last seen alive on January 6, 2003, when the others arrested along with him said he was brutally assaulted in custody. While the police claimed that Yunus had escaped from custody while being ferried by a team led by now dismissed Mumbai Police officer Sachin Waze – arrested in the Ambani terror scare case – the CID found the claim to be false and filed a case against the four policemen who accompanied Yunus.
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