Pune car crash: Teen driver's aunt files plea in HC, says his detention illegal, seeks release

The petition said no matter from what perception this unfortunate incident is looked at, it was an accident and the person who was said to be driving the vehicle was a minor.
The Porsche car driven by a 17-year-old boy which knocked down two motorbike riders in the Kalyani Nagar area of Pune city in the early hours of Sunday, causing their deaths.
The Porsche car driven by a 17-year-old boy which knocked down two motorbike riders in the Kalyani Nagar area of Pune city in the early hours of Sunday, causing their deaths. Photo| PTI

MUMBAI: A paternal aunt of the teenager allegedly involved in the Pune Porsche car crash that killed two IT professionals last month has moved the Bombay High Court claiming the boy was in "illegal" detention and sought his immediate release.

The woman, in her habeas corpus (produce the person) plea, has sought immediate release of the 17-year-old boy, who is currently lodged at an observation home in Pune.

The petition said no matter from what perception this unfortunate incident is looked at, it was an accident and the person who was said to be driving the vehicle was a minor.

The petition, filed on June 10, came up for hearing before a division bench of Justices Bharati Dangre and Manjusha Deshpande on Friday.

A habeas corpus petition is filed to ensure a person under arrest is brought before a court which determines whether the detention is legal.

Public Prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar, representing the Pune police, challenged the maintainability of the petition and argued the boy was in legal custody in the observation home.

Senior advocate Aabad Ponda, representing the petitioner, sought the urgent release of the boy.

After the arguments, the bench posted the hearing on the plea for June 20.

In the early hours of May 19, the juvenile was allegedly driving a Porsche car at a very high speed in an intoxicated state when it crashed into a motorbike, killing two software engineers -- Aneesh Awadhiya and Ashwini Koshta -- in Pune's Kalyani Nagar area.

The boy's aunt, in the plea, claimed because of public uproar coupled with political agenda, the police deviated from the right course of investigation in the case, thus defeating the entire purpose of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.

The Porsche car driven by a 17-year-old boy which knocked down two motorbike riders in the Kalyani Nagar area of Pune city in the early hours of Sunday, causing their deaths.
Pune car crash: Juvenile's parents, another accused to stay in police custody till June 14

"The intent of the law is abundantly clear and there cannot be any iota of doubt that the most important factor and the crucial element is the well-being of a minor child who is in conflict with law," the petition said.

The woman claimed the boy and his family were portrayed as "monstrous".

"In the present case, the boy, who was also subjected to physical assault (after the crash), was shown to be a monster and removed from his home where he could feel protected and is kept in illegal detention," the petition said.

The teenager must have been kept with other children in conflict with law at the observation home which could be detrimental to him.

Instead of an observation facility, he ought to be kept in the custody of a family member (the boy's parents are in jail in separate cases related to the crash) who could take care of him, according to the plea.

The petition said the police were trying to make an example out of this case and in the process acting in contravention of provisions of law.

On May 19 itself the boy (hours after the crash) was released in the custody of his grandfather with certain conditions.

However, pursuant to a motivated public uproar, the release order passed by the Juvenile Justice Board was challenged by the police and on May 22, the boy was taken back into custody and sent to an observation home, it said.

Pursuant to this, the boy's parents and grandfather were arrested (on different charges related to the accident) and are currently in judicial custody.

The boy continues to be illegally detained in violation of provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, the petitioner claimed.

"The petitioner is compelled to file the petition against the respondents (police) for their abuse of process and blatant disregard to the rule of law, further compounded by the arbitrary and illegal detention of the boy," the plea said.

Earlier this week, the Juvenile Justice Board extended the teenager's custody at the observation facility till June 25.

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