HC agrees with prosecution’s contention that he may leave country if freed

The Madras High Court on Monday dismissed the bail petition of Shaji Purushothaman, who is accused of running over a boy while driving in a drunken state.

An earlier bail petition of his was dismissed by the Principal Sessions Court on June 25.

On Monday, Justice B. Rajendran said, “This court took note of the apprehension raised by the prosecution that if the petitioner is let off on bail, there is every possibility he will leave the country and it will be very difficult for the prosecution to subject him to criminal trial. This court is also taking note of the conduct of the petitioner who was found in possession of cigarettes in jail,” the judge said.

Noting that the investigation was at a crucial stage, the judge said it was too early for Shaji to have filed a bail petition.

On May 23, Shaji drove a Mercedes in an inebriated condition, with three friends as co-passengers, and hit pavement dwellers near the maternity hospital in Egmore. Shaji’s rash and negligent driving resulted in the death of a 13-year-old boy besides injuring several others, the prosecution said.

He was arrested at the Cochin International Airport on June 13.

Without going into the merits of the case, the judge said it was sufficient to state that a person drove a vehicle in an inebriated condition and caused the death of a boy, besides injuring many others. He said the accident took place around 1 a.m. on May 23 and there could not have been heavy traffic on the road at that odd hour.

He also said that Shaji left the country soon after hearing of the death of one of the victims on May 25. He escaped the clutches of the law and attempted to subvert the criminal process for about a month until he was arrested on June 13. “This court can also infer that the petitioner has surfaced from his hideout only after the prosecution obtained orders declaring him a proclaimed offender,” the judge said.

The court also rejected another contention of Shaji’s counsel that the other two co-accused had been released on bail on May 21 and such a benefit could be extended to Shaji too.

The Judge said they were granted bail only on the grounds that they travelled as co-occupants in the car and therefore the same yardstick could not be applied in Shaji’s case.

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