Pune car accident: Bombay HC orders release of juvenile accused in the case

The Bombay High Court declared the remand order by the Juvenile Justice Board illegal

Updated - June 25, 2024 10:17 pm IST

Published - June 25, 2024 03:08 pm IST - MUMBAI

A team inspects the luxuy car at the Yerwada Police Station, in Pune. File

A team inspects the luxuy car at the Yerwada Police Station, in Pune. File | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered the release of the 17-year-old from the observation home who is accused in the Pune luxury car accident case that killed two young techies. The court declared the remand order illegal and set it aside. 

A division bench of judges, Justice Bharati Dangre and Justice Manjusha Deshpande pronounced the order on June 25 after reserving it on June 21. Passing the order, the judges bench observed that the custody order passed by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) was illegal and issued without jurisdiction and allowed a habeas corpus writ petition filed by the paternal aunt of the accused who filed the plea seeking his release from the observation home. The court has directed that the JJB ordered counselling sessions with a psychologist should continue post the minor’s release.  

The bench said, “We allow the petition and order his release. The Child in Conflict with Law/minor (CCL) shall be in the care and custody of the petitioner (paternal aunt). The CCL is under 18 years old. His age needs to be considered.” The court also observed that though the accident was unfortunate, the boy cannot be kept in an observation home.  

In last week’s hearing, the JJB was pulled up by the court for remanding the minor to an observation home when he was already released on bail. The court remarked the remand and extension as ‘completely nullified the effect of bail.’  

Representing Pune police, Chief Public Prosecutor, Hiten Venegaonkar objected to the maintainability of a habeas corpus plea and argued that a writ of habeas corpus could not be filed until and unless the order was illegal. Mr. Venegaonkar contended that since the grandfather and parents were in custody, the minor had to be in an observation home under the supervision of a probation officer. He also stressed that sending the minor to the observation home was necessary for his safety and well-being under section 104 of the JJ Act.  

Appearing for the petitioner’s aunt, Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda argued that once a minor is granted bail, he cannot be placed in an observation home.

“Supreme Court has time and again said that when it comes to liberty of a person, the system can be cut short,” Mr. Ponda countered and argued that sending the juvenile to an observation home is only exercised only at circumstances when the minor’s family does not exist.   

Residents express shock

Monica S., a resident of Kalyani Nagar where the incident happened, has been actively addressing the issues of violations of pubs and bars for the last two years and along with Team Swacch Kalyani Nagar (TSKN) she has filed many complaints to the police department, Pune Municipal Corporation, excise and district collector.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that the minor involved in the luxury car accident case has been granted bail. Just yesterday, the victims’ family met the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and received assurances for justice in the case. This high court decision undermines the public’s faith in our legal system. The value of life should never be underestimated, and it appears that the authorities are more concerned with letting the heat die down rather than seeking justice. As residents and citizens across the nation take a stand against this injustice, it’s crucial that those in power listen and act accordingly,” Ms. Monica said.  

Another resident, Rohan Desai, founder of Koregaon Park Residents Welfare Association, who has been raising concern over illegal commercial properties sprung in residential apartments for the last five years said, “The moment the judgement was out, news spread across Pune and generated anger among the citizens. This is heights of corruption! The Pune Collector refuses to cancel licenses of illegal commercial properties reasoning he is under tremendous pressure from influential people in power. The people of Pune will express their anger in the coming elections.”  

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