The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the trial court to book eight police officials from Wadala Railway Police in the murder of 25-year-old Agnelo Valdaris who died in police custody five years ago after being picked up on charges of theft.
Division bench of Justice BP Dharmadhikari and Justice SS Jadhav allowed the petition filed by Agnelo's father Leonard and directed the trial court to book the 8 policemen under Section 302 (murder), Section 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) an Section 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of IPC.
Agnelo and three others were picked up by Wadala Railway Police on April 15, 2014 on charges of theft. According to Agnelo's family, for the next three days they were allegedly stripped, tortured and even forced to have oral sex with each other. On April 18, Agnelo died while the others were released on bail on April 22. After his death, Wadala police claimed that Agnelo died while trying to escape from their custody and was run over by a train.
Previously, the eight accused were booked under sections 338 (causing grievous hurt or endangering the life of another person) and 377 (unnatural sex) of the IPC.
The Central Bureau of Investigation told the Court that Valdaris, who was found dead on railway tracks five years ago in April 2014, was tortured and sexually assaulted by the eight government railway police (GRP) officials who are accused in the case but there is no evidence to suggest that he was killed by them.
CBI's counsel Hiten Venegavkar told the bench that Agnelo died after being knocked down by a running train while he was trying to escape custody. Venegavkar said that the agency has recorded the statement of four eye witness and collected the relevant information from log books of the railway department and railway police department. Even the doctor's evidence regarding injuries on Agnelo's body before and after death clearly suggest that only injuries within 12 hours were fatal and were caused due to train accident, Venegavkar submitted.
Advocate Payoshi Roy appeared on behalf of the petitioner and submitted that CCTV camera footage shows that Agnelo did not try to escape custody as claimed by the police. There is enough evidence to show that he died in police custody due to the torture faced at the hands of the accused, Roy said.
Court found that the statements of eye witness were inconsistent and noted that the co-accused arrested along with Agnelo had said that they were all tortured and could not walk on their own. Hence, the bench concluded that the deceased running on the railway tracks was out of question