Oppose his bail plea; officer suspended for letting accused walk free from station after accident last Thursday

The city police told the Madras High Court on Wednesday that the man driving the Mercedes-Benz that ran over children sleeping near a pavement in Egmore, last week, was P. Shaji.

He is the son of Empee Group founder-chairman M.P. Purushothaman. Shaji was drunk at the time of the accident, the police said.

A station house officer has been suspended for allowing Shaji to walk free from the police station after the accident. A 12-year-old boy hit by the speeding car died in hospital a day later.

The case is now being investigated by an assistant commissioner, the city police told the Madras High Court on Wednesday.

The police made the submission in their counter to Shaji’s anticipatory bail plea.

Opposing the bail plea, the police said since the investigation was in the preliminary stage, Shaji, an influential person, could tamper with the evidence.

The police also countered Shaji’s claim that a patrol vehicle coming from the opposite direction had resulted in the accident.

According to the assistant commissioner of police, traffic investigation wing, there is no one-way regulation on Pantheon Road after 8 p.m. and therefore, the patrol vehicle was not in the wrong. The accident happened around 12.45 a.m. last Thursday.

Investigation conducted so far has revealed that Shaji was driving the vehicle when the accident happened. There were three others in the vehicle.

It was corroborated by several eyewitnesses, the police said.

One of the co-passengers was arrested and remanded to judicial custody.

Even though there was ample evidence to prove that Shaji was the main accused and the other three abetted the offence, he was allowed to leave the police station scot-free.

The station house officer concerned had been suspended in this regard, the police said.

The car was driven in a rash and negligent manner resulting in the accident. The three co-passengers too were drunk, the police said, adding there was ample evidence from eyewitnesses to prove the offences against the four accused.

The police also pointed to contradictory statements made by the petitioner.

In his anticipatory bail plea filed in the principal sessions court, Shaji’s counsel said though the petitioner was the car owner, he did not travel in the car.

However, in the petition filed in the High Court, the counsel admitted the petitioner was travelling in the car with two other friends, the police submitted.

The court has adjourned the matter to Thursday.

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