Friday, August 31, 2012

2002 custody death: Victim’s mother still awaits compensation

The state government may well be in breach of a Bombay High Court order that had awarded a compensation of Rs 17 lakh to the mother of Parbhani-based engineer Khwaja Yunus (27) — allegedly killed in police custody in 2002 — and gave the government eight weeks to pay up.
Lawyer Mihir Desai, on behalf of Yunus’s mother Aasiya Begum, has sent a legal notice to the Home Department, asking it to pay the compensation amount immediately.
In a legal notice dated June 19, Desai had stated that the state government was liable to pay the compensation on or before June 5 but they have not complied with the court’s order. “Till date, my client has not received the said amount in compensation nor has she received any communication from you concerning the same,” the notice states. Desai said the government has not responded to the notice either.
In a decade-long legal battle, Begum had sought action against police officers who allegedly abused Yunus, who was booked in connection with the Ghatkopar blast in December 2002, while in custody, after which he succumbed to his injuries. The state government had, in January 2008, accepted Yunus’s custodial death and agreed to pay compensation of Rs 3 lakh to Begum. She refused to accept the compensation, saying she did not need “alms” from the government but later accepted it.
On April 10, the HC enhanced the compensation to Rs 20 lakh. “...the petitioner has lost her son, who was hardly 27 years old, and had still a larger part of his life to live. She has suffered tremendous mental torture and agony due to the events and circumstances in which her son had disappeared. Accordingly, the petitioner is entitled to, and the respondents are liable to pay, immediate compensation of at least Rs 20 lakh,” the court had said.
Begum had sought prosecution of 10 police officers but the then Director General of Police (DGP) had, on December 5, 2007, granted sanction for the prosecution of only four, including encounter specialist Sachin Vaze and three constables.
Yunus was among the four arrested by the Mumbai Police on December 23, 2002, in connection with the Ghatkopar blast and booked under POTA. He was brought to the city on January 3, 2003, and went missing four days later.
At the time Vaze had stated that he, along with three constables, were taking Yunus to Aurangabad from the Powai lock-up for investigation when their vehicle met with an accident at Jategaon near Parner in Ahmednagar and Yunus allegedly managed to flee.
The High Court had, however, observed: “The police officers concerned were responsible for the sudden disappearance of her son (Yunus) whilst in police custody; and to destroy the evidence of their acts of commission and omission, filed false complaint to spread canard that Khwaja Yunus has absconded after the accident caused to police vehicle while travelling to Aurangabad. That tall claim of the police officers concerned has since been exposed.”