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With custodial death plea petitioner shifting focus: HC in Salman case

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has removed Salman Khan’s name from a plea seeking CBI probe into custodial death of one accused in the Bollywood actor’s house firing case, impleading Khan as a respondent, and said that the petitioner was only shifting focus from the main issue.

While directing for removal of the actor’s name as respondent in the plea a Division Bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Shyam Chanda on Monday held that no averments or relief was sought against Khan in the petition filed by the accused’s mother hence there was no point in keeping the actor involved in the plea.

The court was hearing a plea filed by Rita Devi, mother of accused Anuj Thapan who was found dead on May 1 inside the toilet of the Crime Branch police lock-up here.

In her plea, Khan is also one of the respondent in which the petitioner sought the high court to direct the CBI to conduct a probe into her son’s death.

“What is the point of making a person who is supposed to be the victim a party respondent? We see no reason why respondent 4 should continue to be in this plea. He is not a necessary party,” the bench said.

“Delete his name. Petitioner seeks leave to amend the petition to delete the name of respondent 4 (Salman Khan) as there is no pleading against him and no relief sought against him,” the court said.

On April 14, two motorbike-borne persons opened fire outside Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s residence in Bandra area here.

The alleged shooters – Vicky Gupta and Sagar Pal – were later arrested from Gujarat.

Thapan was arrested on April 26 from Punjab along with another person for allegedly supplying weapons to the shooters for firing at Khan’s residence.

While police claim Thapan killed himself, Rita Devi in her petition filed on May 3 in the HC alleged foul play and claimed he was killed.

The petition said Thapan was physically assaulted and tortured by police in custody.

The HC noted the petitioner’s concern was the death of her son but there was no point in making Khan a respondent in the plea.

“You (petitioner) are concerned with the death of your son…that the court will look into…but what is the point of impleading respondent 4 in the plea,” the bench asked.

The petitioner’s advocate told the court that while they are not seeking any relief in their plea against the actor, he should be part of the probe being carried out by the state Crime Investigation Department (CID) into Thapan’s death.

The court said it is for the CID to decide.

“Your (petitioner) focus should be on the main issue. By doing this, you are digressing from the core issue which should be your concern,” it said.

Additional public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde informed the court that as per law, a magisterial enquiry was also initiated and submitted a status report of the CID probe before the HC.

Rita Devi’s advocate told the court that the magistrate issued summons to the petitioner on May 10, directing her to appear before it for recording her statement on May 23, but she received the summons only on May 24.

The court said the magistrate shall issue fresh summons to the petitioner and ensure it is served prior in time so that she can appear.

The high court adjourned the matter for further hearing after six week.

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