HomeScience & TechBombay High Court Criticizes "Incomplete" Autopsy Report in Custodial Death Case

Bombay High Court Criticizes “Incomplete” Autopsy Report in Custodial Death Case

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday expressed its displeasure over the “incomplete” autopsy report of Anuj Thapan, an accused in the firing incident outside actor Salman Khan’s residence, who died in police custody. The court noted that the report lacked critical details, raising concerns about the thoroughness of the investigation.

A vacation bench of Justices N R Borkar and Somasekhar Sundaresan reviewed the post-mortem report and pointed out significant omissions, including the absence of a diagram of the ligature mark on Thapan’s neck and details of any other injuries on his body.

The case came before the court following a petition by Rita Devi, Thapan’s mother, who alleges foul play in her son’s death on May 1 inside the lock-up of Mumbai police’s crime branch. Devi’s petition, filed on May 3, seeks a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the circumstances of Thapan’s death.

Allegations of Foul Play

While police maintain that Thapan committed suicide, Rita Devi claims in her petition that her son was physically assaulted and tortured by police officers. She contends that his death was not self-inflicted but a result of police brutality.

On Wednesday, additional public prosecutor Jayesh Yagnik presented a preliminary report from the state CID’s inquiry into Thapan’s death, along with the autopsy report. The court scrutinized the documents and highlighted the gaps in the post-mortem report.

“Where is the diagram of the ligature mark? Is the ligature mark oblique in shape or round? Death by asphyxiation can also be because of strangling. It need not be because of hanging only,” the court remarked. It further criticized the report for not detailing whether there were any other injuries on Thapan’s body.

Legal Proceedings

Yagnik assured the court that the investigating team would follow up with the doctors to address the missing information. The bench ordered that a copy of the report be provided to Rita Devi and scheduled the next hearing for June.

In a related development, senior counsel Aabad Ponda, representing Salman Khan, requested the deletion of the actor’s name as a party respondent in the plea. Ponda argued that Khan, as the victim of the attack, had no connection to Thapan’s custodial death and that including his name in the petition was damaging to his reputation.

“The actor is in fact the victim here. Someone tried to attack him (Khan) and his house. He does not know who is behind the attacks and who have been arrested,” Ponda stated. The court acknowledged this and noted that the petitioner was not currently seeking any relief or action against Khan.

The case stems from an incident on April 14, when two bike-borne assailants fired shots outside Salman Khan’s Bandra residence. Vicky Gupta and Sagar Pal were subsequently arrested in Gujarat. Thapan was arrested on April 26 from Punjab along with another individual. In total, six people have been arrested in connection with the case. Thapan’s death occurred while he was in custody, with four suspects currently in judicial custody and the fifth in police custody.

The court’s scrutiny of the autopsy report highlights the ongoing concerns about the handling of custodial deaths and the need for thorough and transparent investigations.

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