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Bombay High Court Orders Removal of Salman Khan’s Name from Custodial Death Plea

The Bombay High Court on Monday ordered the removal of actor Salman Khan’s name as a respondent in a plea seeking a CBI investigation into the custodial death of Anuj Thapan, an accused in a firing incident outside Khan’s residence.

Anuj Thapan was found dead on May 1 in the toilet of the crime branch police lock-up. A division bench comprising Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Shyam Chandak directed the petitioner, Rita Devi, Thapan’s mother, to amend the petition and remove Khan’s name.

Also read: Salman Khan Named in Petition Due to Typographical Error, Accused’s Mother Clarifies in Bombay High Court

“Delete his name. The petitioner seeks leave to amend the petition to remove respondent 4 as there is no pleading against him and no relief sought from him,” the court stated.

On April 14, two motorbike-borne individuals fired shots outside Salman Khan’s house in Bandra. The alleged shooters, Vicky Gupta and Sagar Pal, were subsequently arrested in Gujarat. Thapan, arrested on April 26 in Punjab along with another individual for allegedly supplying weapons to the shooters, was found dead in custody. While police claim Thapan committed suicide, Rita Devi’s petition filed on May 3 alleges foul play and claims her son was killed.

Rita Devi’s plea calls for a CBI investigation into her son’s death, alleging that Thapan was physically assaulted and tortured by police. Initially, Khan was included as a respondent in the petition.

The high court emphasized that no allegations or relief were sought against Khan in the petition, making his inclusion unnecessary. “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 remarked.

The court stressed that the petitioner’s main concern should be her son’s death, not involving Khan. “You are concerned with the death of your son… that the court will look into… but what is the point of including respondent 4 in the plea?” the bench questioned. “This is too far-fetched. No relief is sought from him and no allegation is made against him,” the court added.

The petitioner’s advocate argued that although no specific relief was sought against Khan, he should still be part of the state CID’s investigation into Thapan’s death. The court, however, indicated that this decision rests with the CID.

The court noted that including Khan as a respondent was diverting attention from the core issue. “Your 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 a magisterial inquiry had been initiated and submitted a status report on the CID investigation. The petitioner’s advocate mentioned that the petitioner received a summons on May 24, a day after she was directed to appear on May 23 to record her statement.

The court directed the magistrate to issue a new summons in a timely manner so the petitioner can appear as required. The matter has been scheduled for further hearing in six weeks.

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