Trailer driver set free after 11 yrs of trial

A city court acquitted a trailer driver due to lack of evidence 11 years after an accident allegedly killed two persons and critically injuring two. The identity of the trailer driver under dispute after he allegedly fled the accident spot on January 31, 2009, the court on Monday acquitted the 47-year-old driver for lack of evidence.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sharad S Pardeshi said in his judgment said there is “absolutely no evidence” on record to connect accused Mahadev Pundhe with the crime. For lack of evidence, Magistrate Pardeshi said he has no hesitation to hold that the prosecution has “miserably failed” to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The court noted that there is “not a single witness” who has seen the accused driving the offending vehicle and that the identity of the accused has not been established by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt.

The identity of the accused as the driver of the trailer had been disputed by the defence. The prosecution had examined nine witnesses in the case, two of them eye-witnesses. One was the complainant in the case - an auto driver who had escaped the mishap but his vehicle was damaged. He had deposed in the court regarding the accident and identified the accused as the driver. But during the cross-examination, he said that he had seen the man at the police station for the first time.

Another eye-witness produced by the prosecution was the brother of one of the deceased. He testified that he was nearby and when he came to the accident spot hearing the noise. He had seen the accused fleeing the spot.

During the cross-examination, he said that he had not seen the accused fleeing. He deposed that he was near his home at the time of the accident, from where it would take five to seven minutes by running to reach the spot.

The court had found the evidence of two other witnesses inadmissible as they were not at the spot at the time.

At 11.30 AM on the fateful day in 2009, 14-year-old Sonu Gupta who was enjoying a plate of samosas inside a parked auto near Yashvant Nagar Junction on Eastern Express Highway, lost his life when the trailer hit the auto he was sitting in, crushing him. Another victim was Chandrakant Bhadkumbe who was crushed under the trailer when his scooter was run over by it.

Auto-driver Vijaykumar Gupta had suffered serious head injury. The complaint had been filed by an auto-driver Shivaji Adhavkar who had stepped out of his vehicle to have water and witnessed the accident. His auto was completely damaged in the mishap.

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