A Mumbai court on Thursday granted bail to four senior Mumbai crime branch officials, arrested in connection with the alleged custodial death of Prevention of Terrorism Act accused Khwaja Younus, who was arrested in connection with the Ghatkopar bomb blast.
Observing that the Criminal Investigation Department had failed to produce substantial evidence against the accused - inspector Praful Bhosle, inspector Rajaram Vhanmane, API Hemant Desai and PSI Ashok Khot, magistrate V A Kulkarni released them on bail for a sum of Rs 25,000 each by asking them to give personal bond and surety.
Prosecutor A S Bobade opposed the bail petitions, saying investigations were in the preliminary stage and the accused had not co-operated during police custody.
He argued that the charge sheet has not been filed and it was too early to grant them bail. The prosecutor further said a magistrate did not have powers to grant bail in a case of murder for which the punishment was more than 10 years imprisonment.
Defence lawyer Satish Maneshinde and Vaibhav Bagade argued that in order to frame charges against the accused, the prosecution had to show some material against them. But in this case they had failed to produce substantial evidence against either on the charge of murder or on the charge of trying to destroy evidence.
"If the officers are granted bail they are not going to abscond as they are government servants and they are settled in the city," the defence lawyers said. Even before their arrest, the officials had appeared before the CID whenever they were asked to.
The CID contended that Younus, an accused in the December 2002 Ghatkopar blast case, had died in lock up and his body disposed of by the accused.
It further alleged that the arrested police officers had concocted a false story that Younus had escaped while being taken to Aurangabad.
While the police claim that Younus had escaped from custody on January seven, 2003, and was not traceable, a co-accused had alleged that he had died in jail due to police assault.