MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has directed the removal of actor Salman Khan‘s name as a respondent in a plea seeking a CBI probe into the custodial death of Anuj Thapan, an accused in a case of firing outside the actor’s house.
The court, comprising Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Shyam Chandak, instructed the petitioner, Rita Devi, mother of Thapan, to amend the petition and delete Khan’s name, as there were no pleadings or relief sought against him.
The incident in question occurred on April 14, when two motorbike-borne persons opened fire outside Salman Khan’s residence in Bandra, Mumbai. 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. However, on May 1, Thapan was found dead inside the toilet of the crime branch police lock-up.
While the police claim Thapan committed suicide, Rita Devi filed a petition in the High Court on May 3, alleging foul play and asserting that her son was killed. She sought a CBI probe into Thapan’s death, stating that he was physically assaulted and tortured by police in custody.
On Monday, the High Court noted that the petitioner’s concern was the death of her son, but there was no point in making Khan a respondent in the plea, as no averments or relief were sought against him.
“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,” stated the bench.
The High Court noted that the petitioner’s primary concern was the death of her son and involving Khan unnecessarily diverged from this issue.
“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.
“This is too far-fetched. No relief is sought against him (Salman Khan) and no averment or allegation is made against him,” added the court.
The petitioner’s advocate acknowledged that they were not seeking any relief against Khan but suggested he be part of the ongoing investigation by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) into Thapan’s death.
The court stated that this decision lies with the CID. By involving Khan, the petitioner was losing focus on the core issue, the court observed.
“Your (petitioner) focus should be on the main issue. By doing this, you are digressing from the core issue which should be your concern,” the court noted.
The petitioner’s advocate argued that while they were not seeking any relief against the actor, he should be part of the ongoing probe by the state Crime Investigation Department (CID) into Thapan’s death. However, the court stated that it is for the CID to decide.
Additional Public Prosecutor Prajakta Shinde informed the court that a magisterial inquiry was also underway and submitted a CID status report to the High Court.
Rita Devi’s advocate pointed out that the petitioner had received a summons to appear before the magistrate on May 23, but received it a day late, on May 24. In response, the court directed the magistrate to issue fresh summons to the petitioner, ensuring it is served well in advance so she can appear on time.
The High Court scheduled the next hearing for six weeks later.