With the police formally informing a magistrate here that Shaji Purushothaman may have fled the country to escape from the clutches of law, a local court here on Wednesday formally declared him a fugitive.

L. Abraham Lincoln, XIV Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, declared the elusive Shaji a “proclaimed offender” in the drunk driving case involving the death of a 13-year-old boy. This followed a petition by the police in which it was said there was credible information that he had fled the country. The Magistrate directed the police to publish a written proclamation requiring him to appear before the XIV Metropolitan Magistrate Court and gave him time till 10 am, July 19.

The court said the proclamation should be publicly read in some conspicuous place of the town or village in which Shaji resides. It should also be affixed to some conspicuous part of the court.

The order is based on a provision in the criminal procedure code that will help put pressure on an absconding suspect to appear in court or surrender to the police. It will also help the police to approach any law-enforcing authority in any part of the world to arrest Shaji, who has kept investigators guessing over his whereabouts for days. The proclamation order is also required for issuing a Red Corner notice through Interpol. Further, any property, movable or immoveable, of a proclaimed offender can be attached by the court.

The investigating officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police, V.Selvamurthy, said in his petition: “Shaji has been absconding from the day of occurrence [of accident]. The remaining three accused, R.M. Kumar alias ‘Kudirai’ Kumar, Anil Rao and Syed Anwar, were arrested. Special teams were formed to trace the accused. They had gone Bangalore, Coimbatore, Kerala and Mumbai to trace Shaji and arrest him. But, no clues have been obtained as he has been evading arrest.” He said a non-bailable warrant was obtained on June 7.