Pune car crash: Bombay High Court orders release of minor accused of drunk driving

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered the release of a 17-year-old boy who killed two persons when his Porsche car crashed into their motorbike in Pune on May 19, reported Live Law.

The minor, reportedly from the family of a prominent city realtor, was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.

The court’s direction came in response to a petition by Pooja Gagan Jain, the minor’s paternal aunt, who claimed that he was being illegally detained in an observation home despite having been granted bail on May 19. The minor will now be placed under the aunt’s care.

The Juvenile Justice Board in Pune had cancelled the minor’s bail order on May 22 and remanded him to an observation home. The boy’s aunt had sought that the remand order be quashed.

The High Court on Tuesday held the remand order to be illegal and said that it had been passed without jurisdiction. It directed the minor to continue counselling sessions with a psychologist after his release, as mandated by the Juvenile Justice Board.

“How could [the minor] be taken away from the custody of his grandfather and put in an observation home that too by recalling, reviewing the earlier [bail] order of 19th May 2024 is something that is completely in contravention to law,” the petition filed by the minor’s aunt said.

“We are bound by law,” a division bench of Justice Bharati Dangre and Justice Manjusha Deshpande said on Tuesday, reported The Indian Express. The bench remarked that as per the Juvenile Justice Act, it had to “treat [the minor] as a child in conflict with law separately from adults, despite the seriousness of the crime”.

Last week, the bench had remarked that remanding the minor to an observation home “completely nullified the effect of bail”.

The petitioner’s counsel told the High Court that a juvenile, once granted bail, cannot be remanded to an observation home. They also said that the minor’s May 19 bail order was operative and that he had not be rearrested or subjected to additional charges since, reported Live Law. The lawyer also pointed out that his bail order had not been cancelled by any higher court.

The public prosecutor on the other hand argued that since the minor’s grandfather and parents were in custody, he had to be kept in an observation home.

The minor’s parents and grandfather were also arrested in connection with the case.

His mother was arrested for allegedly swapping the minor’s blood sample with her own at a Pune hospital. On May 28, the police had claimed that doctors at the Sassoon General Hospital manipulated the minor’s blood samples before they were sent to a forensic lab to check for alcohol content.

The boy’s father was arrested under provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act for letting his son drive a car and under the Juvenile Justice Act for wilful neglect of a minor.

The minor’s grandfather was arrested for allegedly abducting and wrongfully confining the family driver in an attempt to force him to claim that he was driving the Porsche when the crash occurred.

A Pune court granted bail to the father on Friday.

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