The CBI has told a special court that in the custodial death case of 25-year-old Agnelo Valdaris, there is no evidence to charge the accused police personnel with murder. In a recent hearing before the special court, the CBI repeated its stance made before the Bombay High Court in 2019.
The HC had, in December 2019, directed the trial court to frame charges against the eight accused for murder and destruction of evidence, refusing to accept the CBI’s contention that Valdaris had been run over by a train when he attempted to escape from custody of Wadala Government Railway Police (GRP) on April 18, 2014 after his arrest in a theft case.
The Supreme Court had in 2020 said that the high court’s observations are not binding on the trial court. The apex court had directed the trial court to independently apply its mind without being influenced by the high court’s observations on the charges to be framed against the accused. The SC had also granted liberty to Valdaris’s father and other victims in the case to file a protest petition before the trial court.
The special court recently heard the protest petition filed on behalf of the victims. It heard submissions by the CBI and the accused on the charges made out in the case.
The CBI submitted that the agency’s investigation and the evidence in its chargesheet had not shown enough proof to charge the accused for murder. It was submitted that its probe showed that Valdaris was run over by a train and that as per the agency’s chargesheet, the accused were charged under sections of assault and relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), Act. The accused also submitted that there was no evidence to show that the incident was a case of murder.
Valdaris along with three others were apprehended by the Wadala GRP in 2014 in an alleged theft case. The four, which included a minor, were allegedly sexually abused as well as physically tortured. On April 18, 2014, the officials of the GRP claimed that Valdaris had been run over by a train while he was escaping from custody. His father, Leonard, filed a petition before the HC seeking an investigation into the death stating that it was a case of ‘custodial death’.