HC asks state government to pay Rs 20 lakh compensation to Khwaja's mother

The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra Government to pay Rs 20 lakh compensation to the mother of POTA detainee Khwaja Yunus in a case of custodial death, but dismissed her plea seeking prosecution of ten police officers for the same charges.

Hearing a petition filed by Khwaja's mother Aasiya Begum, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice P D Kode increased the compensation amount from Rs 3 lakh, awarded by the lower court, to Rs 20 lakh.

The government has been asked to pay the compensation within eight weeks.

Khwaja Yunus, Aasiya begum, Sachin Vaze
Khwaja Yunus's mother holding his picture. (Inset ) Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze is an accused in the case. 

"Petitioner (Aasiya Begum) is entitled to relief of compensation not only because the offence has resulted in violation of fundamental rights of Khwaja Yunus, but also because she has lost her sole bread winner (Khwaja)", the division bench observed. 

Yunus, a software engineer working in a Dubai-based company, was arrested by police for his alleged involvement in a bomb blast in a BEST bus outside suburban Ghatkopar station on December 02, 2002.

On January 6, 2003, police claimed that he escaped while being taken to Aurangabad, when the police jeep met with an accident. But a CID probe indicated that this was a "false story" and Yunus had died in police custody.

The petitioner had suffered tremendous mental torture and agony due to the events and circumstances, in which, her son disappeared, the judges observed.

"Notably the other accused with whom Khwaja is alleged to have conspired the Ghatkopar bomb blasts, have been already acquitted by a special POTA court. There was an excellent chance that even Khwaja would have been acquitted," the bench observed while increasing the compensation by Rs 17 lakh.

Aasia Begum had filed a petition seeking adequate compensation from the state government and demanding trial of police officers who were allegedly responsible for her son's death in custody.

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