The Maharashtra government has decided to give a compensation of Rs three lakh to the mother of Khwaja Yunus, an accused in the 2002 Ghatkopar bus blast, who died in police custody in Mumbai. The decision to give the compensation to Aasiya Begum was conveyed to the Bombay High Court by the government on Wednesday.
A division bench of Justices R M S Khandeparkar and Amjad Sayed was hearing the application filed by Aasiya Begum, seeking compensation from the state and also prosecution of police officials, who are responsible for the custodial death of her son.
Aasiya's advocate Mihir Desai submitted before the court that she would accept the compensation and regard it as compliance of the sessions court order, that awarded her Rs 5,000 per month as compensation, until Khwaja was found.
The state told the court that the decision to award Rs three lakh as compensation to Aasiya was independent of the sessions court order as it was beyond the jurisdiction of the lower court to award compensation. Also, the said amount was in final settlement of the compensation that the state was going to pay Aasiya.
Advocate Desai also brought to the court's notice that in the course of its investigation against the officers, in connection with Khwaja's death, the state CID had named 14 officers in its affidavit submitted before the court in October 2006.
The state, however, sanctioned prosecution of only four officers, who were allegedly taking Yunus from Mumbai to Aurangabad.
The report included draft charges against the officers for the state's approval. Though Yunus' body was not found, the state-CID had stated after its investigation that he had died in custody.
The court came down heavily on the state when it failed to satisfy the court's query as to why prosecution of only four officers was sanctioned by the state when the report submitted by Additional Superintendent of Police, Kiran Gosavi, had named more officers.
The judges said, "Prima facie, it was sheer arbitrariness on the part of the state for not prosecuting all the officers."
The government said that it had sanctioned prosecution of only four officers as it had material available only against these persons. The explanation, however, did not satisfy the court and the state said it would file a detailed affidavit justifying why it had sanctioned the prosecution of only four officers.
While the court granted time till February 7 to the state for filing its affidavit, the case will come up for hearing on February 14.
Yunus, an engineer from Aurangabad in Central Maharashtra, died after being allegedly beaten up in police custody following his arrest in January 2003. The blast in the corporation-run bus in suburban Ghatkopar had killed two persons and injured many more.