The Bombay high court has asked the Mumbai Police crime branch to prosecute the 12 policemen attached to the Wadala Railway police station who allegedly sexually assaulted and killed a 24-year-old youth in their custody this April.
A division bench of justices VM Kanade and PD Kode also directed the director general of police to supervise the investigation into the alleged custodial death of Agnello alias Richie Valderis.
The court, which transferred the probe from the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to the crime branch, said: "Nobody took cognizance of the complaints made by the father of the deceased. It looks like the CID, instead of probing fairly, started protecting the erring officers. This is unpardonable. The allegations are of serious nature and higher authorities should have taken cognizance of it. This shows a complete lack of sensitivity on the part of high ranking officers."
Leonard Xavier Valderis, the father of the deceased, and three other victims had moved the high court seeking action against the officers, and urged the high court to transfer the probe to the CBI. The petition also prays for compensation to the tune of Rs 1 crore to Valderis and Rs 50 lakh each to the other petitioners.
The court has also directed the crime branch to exhume the body of the deceased and preserve it; seize and preserve all documents related to the case and collect CCTV footage from within the police station and other areas where the alleged incident of murder took place.
According to the complaint, Agnello and three others (one of whom is a minor) were picked up by the Wadala railway police on April 15 from Reay Road for allegedly stealing a gold chain worth Rs 60,000. They were sexually assaulted and tortured while in custody. On April 18, Agnello died. The Wadala GRP, however, claimed he had tried to escape and was run over by a train.
The authorities have already initiated an inquiry against the 12 police officers.
Leonard had earlier said that the Wadala railway police had picked up Agnello on April 15 from his grandmother's house in Dharavi saying he was wanted in a chain-snatching case, and that he had been in their custody ever since. Agnello was, however, not produced in court for the next three days.
The high court will now hear the petition on Friday.