Bombay HC Orders Mumbai Police: Provide Status Report on Anuj Thapan's Death Investigation

Bombay HC Orders Mumbai Police: Provide Status Report on Anuj Thapan's Death Investigation

On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court instructed the Mumbai police to submit a status report regarding the investigation into the demise of Anuj Thapan. Thapan, who was implicated in the case concerning gunfire near actor Salman Khan's residence, died while in police custody.

A vacation bench consisting of Justice Sandeep V. Marne and Justice Neela Kedar Gokhale was handling a writ petition brought forth by Thapan's mother. She had filed the petition seeking a CBI investigation into the incident. Additionally, she requested directives for a new post-mortem examination of Thapan's remains.

Thapan, along with three others, was apprehended on April 26 by the Mumbai police's crime branch. They were accused of allegedly supplying weapons to other suspects involved in the shooting incident near Khan's residence.

He was held in police custody until April 30. Meanwhile, authorities also invoked provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) in relation to the case. On April 29, the accused, including Thapan, were presented before the trial court following the invocation of MCOCA.

The court further extended the police custody of three accused, including Thapan, until May 8, while the other accused were remanded to judicial custody due to medical reasons. On May 1, news emerged reporting Thapan's death by suicide, prompting his mother, Rita Devi, to file the current petition before the High Court. Devi alleges that her son was not a victim of suicide but rather was murdered by the Mumbai Crime Branch. She asserts that he was subjected to severe assault and torture while in police custody.

During the hearing, advocate Nishant Rana Rajanj, representing the petitioner, argued that despite the occurrence of a custodial death, the police had neglected to register an FIR. He emphasized several issues, such as the refusal of the police station to provide CCTV footage to the petitioner, the failure to furnish the post-mortem findings, and the absence of detailed information regarding the circumstances of the death beyond a simple notification.

Additionally, he highlighted the failure to determine whether the rope or cloth purportedly used in the alleged suicide had been subjected to forensic analysis. He also noted procedural deficiencies, such as the unauthorized extension of police custody despite a judicial custody order for other co-accused individuals involved in the case.

He further argued that such actions contravened the Bombay Police Manual, notably Section 67 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951, which mandates the proper care and well-being of prisoners. Consequently, the petitioner requested that an FIR be promptly lodged and the entire investigation be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Public Prosecutor Prajakta Shinde informed the court that the investigations had already been transferred to the State-CID (Criminal Investigation Department). Additionally, she mentioned that a Magisterial Enquiry had been initiated, but she was not aware of its current status.

When questioned about the registration of an FIR, she clarified that an Accidental Death Report (ADR) had been filed, and the investigation was proceeding based on this report. The court instructed her to submit a status report on the next scheduled hearing and scheduled the petition for further review on May 22, 2024. Meanwhile, the court ordered the preservation of CCTV footage and Call Detail Records (CDR) from the relevant police stations and officers.


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