Unfair to remove prosecutor, says HC

Referring to the Khwaja Yunus alleged custodial death, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday said it is unfair to remove a special public prosecutor in an ongoing trial and directed the Advocate General to reconsider his appointment.

A Division Bench of Justices R.M. Savant and Revati Mohitedere was hearing a petition by Asiya Begum, whose 27-year-old son Khwaja was arrested by Powai CID on December 25, 2002, following the Ghatkopar bomb blast.

Two days later, Khwaja’s brother, who visited him in Mumbai, found him weak and unable to stand. On January 6, 2003, Khwaja either died in custody at the Powai Unit or thereafter, while being taken to Aurangabad.

Dhiraj Mirajkar, the third special public prosecutor (SPP), was appointed in November 2015, following the resignations of the second SPP, advocate Yug Chaudhry and the first SPP, advocate R.B. Mokashi. The trial against Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze and three policemen, Rajendra Tiwari, Rajaram Nikam and Sunil Desai, began on May 3, 2017 at the City Civil and Sessions court. The accused have been charged with conspiracy, destruction of evidence and murder.

On April 6, 2018, through a notification, the Maharashtra government cancelled Mr. Mirajkar’s appointment in the case, and this was challenged by Asiya Begum in the HC on June 30. The Bench on Tuesday said it is very discouraging for a lawyer “whose appointment has been cancelled like this.”

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