“Do Cops Have Evidence?” Pune Teen’s Lawyer On The Case Against Father

The father of the Pune teen who mowed down two software engineers now in custody, the minor’s lawyer today scoffed at the police action. In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Prashant Patil said the most crucial bit in the matter will be evidence — whether police have proof that he had knowledge of his son’s activities.

The sections the police have charged him under, are anyway inapplicable, he added.

In one of the most horrific cases of drink driving in recent days, the teen was doing 250 kmph when he hit the bike carrying the two engineers from Madhya Pradesh, Both of them died on the spot.

A few months short of 18, the legal age for driving, he got bail within 15 hours. He has been asked to work with the traffic police of Yerawada for 15 days, and would undergo counselling. He has also been referred to an alcohol de-addiction centre.

The decision of the Juvenile Justice Board for quick bail, with its set of easy conditions, has sparked massive anger. The police have said they are trying to put the minor on trial as an adult. They have also shut down the bar where he and his friends were partying and arrested the boy’s father, a prominent builder from the city.

The police have claimed he has a moral responsibility for his underage son drinking and driving. But that might not be enough, Mr Patil indicated.

“For any action under criminal law one needs knowledge,” Mr Patil said. “There has to be evidence that the father had complete knowledge whether the child was taking out the car or not taking out the car — whatever the case may be,” he added.

Asked about the issue of accountability as a parent, he said in civil or criminal law, the matter has been defined by the Juvenile Justice Act.

The police charges against the minor’s father also have little to do with the case, he claimed. The bulk of the charges against him are under Section 75 and 77 of Juvenile Justice Act. The others rest under the Motor Vehicle Act, he said.

“Then, at then cost of some burden, if we go through the sections even as a layman – we will see they talk about a physical assault or abuse or wilful neglect,” he said, pointing out that the parameters are not connected.

The outraged families of the two victims have called it a “murder”. Aneesh Awadhiya’s uncle Akhilesh Awadhiya said, “The accused, a minor, was drunk and was driving at 240 km per hour. He did not have a driving licence. This is murder, not accident”.

Even Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has questioned the Juvenile Justice Board’s decision and promised strong action against the teen.

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