Fourteen years ago, an allegedly ‘drowsy’ 26-year-old drove his Maruti Alto into a crowd of people waiting for a state transport bus at midnight in Sion. While 22 people were injured, one was killed. Last week, a sessions court set aside a magistrate’s sentence of two years jail for the man, Kunal Nanda, and acquitted him as there is no evidence that he was driving the car.
In 2017, a Kurla magistrate court had sentenced Nanda after finding him guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 304A (causing death by negligence) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by rash or negligent act), among other offences.
The sessions court said in its judgment last week that there is “absolutely” no evidence that it was the accused who drove the car and said that he is not the registered owner of the vehicle.
Though Nanda had told the magistrate court during the recording of his statement that he was driving the car, the sessions court said his statement was not recorded properly by the magistrate.
On the point of rash driving, Additional Sessions Judge KP Shrikhande said there is “no direct evidence” that the person driving the Alto was driving it rashly or negligently. The car had been found in a damaged condition at the spot. The court said that none of the injured witnesses who testified before the magistrate during the trial, had seen the Alto before it hit them.
“Merely because of the occurrence of the accident, causing injury to several persons, and one succumbing, it cannot be inferred that the accident took place due to negligent driving of the driver,” Judge Shrikhande stated in the order.
Nanda had been detained by the Sion police station’s mobile van. The court said it is not clear from where and when he was detained. The court said the person who had detained the accused should have been examined by the prosecution to show why and when he was detained. The court also pointed out that the police had not recorded the car owner’s statement and that had it been recorded, it would have been useful for the prosecution.
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