Pune car crash: After outcry over bail, juvenile accused shifted to observation home

A 17-year-old boy allegedly involved in a car accident in Pune that claimed two lives has been shifted to an observation home following an order of the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), an official from the facility said on Thursday.
Pune car crash
Pune car crash

Pune | A 17-year-old boy allegedly involved in a car accident in Pune that claimed two lives has been shifted to an observation home following an order of the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), an official from the facility said on Thursday.

More than 30 minors are currently lodged at the observation home, located at the same premises where the hearing on the police's review petition in connection with the case involving the teenager took place on Wednesday, the official said.

The Porsche car, allegedly driven by the teenager, who the police claim was drunk at the time, fatally knocked down two motorbike-borne software engineers at Kalyani Nagar in Maharashtra's Pune city in the early hours of Sunday.

The teenager, son of real estate developer Vishal Agarwal (50), was subsequently produced before the JJB which granted him bail hours later. Police later approached the JJB again, seeking a review of its order.

Following an outcry over quick bail, the JJB on Wednesday remanded the boy to the observation home till June 5.

"The Child-in-Conflict with Law (CCL) was immediately sent to the Nehru Udyog Kendra observation home, located at Yerawada, where he is staying with the other CCLs," the official from the facility said.

A senior police official said during his stay at the observation home, the juvenile will undergo psychological assessments.

According to advocate Prashant Patil, who represented the teenager at the JJB hearing, the process of deciding whether a juvenile should be treated as an adult accused can take at least two months as reports of psychiatrists and counsellors among others are called for, and then the JJB gives its decision.

Patil said during the remand, the CCL will be kept at the rehabilitation home, with specific parameters set for this period.

"The board has given directions regarding providing a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a counsellor for the CCL to support his mental health and help reintegrate him into the mainstream," he said.

While the police said the JJB on Wednesday evening cancelled the bail granted to the minor three days ago, his lawyer claimed there was no cancellation of bail. There was no order yet on the police's application seeking permission to treat him as an adult accused.

"As per the operative order issued by the JJ Board, it has sent the minor to the observation home till June 5. The order on our plea to allow police to treat him as an adult (accused) has not been received yet," Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar said on Wednesday.

Advocate Patil said the bail granted on Sunday has not been cancelled.

"It is a modification of the earlier order....Cancellation of bail means setting aside the earlier order and taking the person in custody. Here, it is not a custody. It is a rehab home," he told reporters on Wednesday.

The JJB had in its Sunday order also asked the teenager to write a 300-word essay on road accidents, an order that drew an onslaught of criticism.

The police have registered an FIR against the minor under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 304 A (causing death by negligence), 279 (rash driving) and relevant sections of the Motor Vehicles Act.

A sessions court earlier on Wednesday remanded the boy's father, and two employees of Hotel Blak Club, Nitesh Shevani and Jayesh Gavkar, in police custody till May 24.

As per the police, the teenager, before the accident, had allegedly consumed alcohol at the hotel.

The police registered a case against his father under sections 75 and 77 of the Juvenile Justice Act, and against the owner and employees of two bars which the boy had visited before Sunday's accident for "serving alcohol to an underage person".

Section 75 deals with "willful neglect of a child, or exposing a child to mental or physical illnesses," while section 77 deals with supplying a child with intoxicating liquor or drugs.

According to the FIR, the real estate developer gave his son the car despite knowing that the boy did not have a driving license, thus endangering his life, and allowed him to party even while knowing that he drinks alcohol.

Activist Prince Singhal, the founder of Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD), a non-profit organisation, in a statement on Wednesday said he has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to take cognisance of the Pune accident case and direct for action against the guilty.

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