Having faced flak from the Punjab and Haryana high court on more than occasion for a shoddy probe, finally the UT police on Tuesday filed a chargesheet against five men in the infamous Audi-Tavera accident in which two young occupants and the driver of the Chevrolet Tavera taxi were killed.
Those chargesheeted are Panchkula resident Rajat Kapoor, 29, who was driving the Audi Q7 SUV, along with Trivikram Singh Toor, 22, Gurpreet Singh, 29, Harsimranjit Singh, 28, and Prabhjit Singh, 28. They have been charged under section 304A among other provisions under the Indian Penal Code, and the maximum penalty, thus, is jail for two years. The case would now come up for hearing on February 25. While the other four got bail, Harsimranjit was not present and was summoned for the next hearing.
The accident had occurred on the night of July 22 last, when the driver and two college students from Vaishali in Ghaziabad were killed and two others were injured in the freak accident as the Audi crossed over the divider on the Sector 17-18 road. In all, four students from Ghaziabad were returning from Dharampur Himachal Pradesh, headed back home after a hill sojourn, in the taxi. They were to take a bus to Delhi from the Sector-17 bus stand, and became victims of the mishap barely a kilometre from their destination.
The driver of the Tavera, 34-year-old Hast Bahadur, a resident of Dharampur, along with the two students sitting on the rear seat — Sahil Juneja, 22, and Kuldeep Singh, 19 — died on the spot. Sahil was pursuing BBA, while Kuldeep was an engineering student.
The other two injured students were Shikhar Rastogi, who was sitting on the front seat, and Rounak Singh, sitting on the left rear seat. The case was registered on the complaint of Shikhar.
In his statement to the police, Shikhar Rastogi, a resident of Sector 5, Ghaziabad, who was injured in the mishap while his two co-occupants were killed, said, "On the intervening night of July 22-23, 2013, I along with my friends Sahil Juneja, Kuldeep Singh and Rounak was coming from Dharampur, Himachal Pradesh, in Tavera being driven by Hast Bahadur, hailing from Dharampur. I saw an Audi coming at very high speed from Sector-17 bus stand chowk… [it] hit the pole installed at the divider of the road… crossed the divider and rammed the Tavera which was coming from the Secdtor 17-18 light point."
Did Audi's tyre burst? The accused, while explaining the cause of accident, had claimed that a tyre burst of the Audi car had made them lose control. However, the forensic report attached with the chargesheet says it cannot be determined exactky if the tyre burst before or after hitting the divider and then the Tavera.
Rajat Kapoor, 29, the businessman son of an industrialist, resident of Sector 4, Panchkula, was driving the Audi that was traced to the name of Hyte Realtors. He was driving the Audi and has been booked under sections 279, 304A, 337 and 338, besides 201 and 212, of the IPC. Has been granted bail against bonds of `50,000.
Trivikram Singh Toor, 22, a student, resident of Phase 10, SAS Nagar, was sitting in the Audi that hit the Tavera. He had allegedly thrown out some bottles from the Audi. He faces the same charges as Rajat and was granted bail against bonds of `50,000.
Gurpreet Singh, 29, a trader from Kharar, was also in the Audi at the time of accident. He, too, had allegedly thrown out bottles from the Audi, and faces the same charges. He got bail, too, against bonds of `50,000.
Prabhjit Singh, 28, a businessman, resident of Sector 9, Chandigarh, had allegedly helped the three occupants of the Audi flee the accident spot. Booked under same sections as others, he got bail for `50,000 bonds.
Harsimranjit Singh, 28, a businessman and resident of Dhakoli in Zirakpur, also accused of helping the other accused flee the spot. Faces same charges, but not granted bail due to absence. He has been summoned by court for February 25.
IPC section 279: Rash driving, punishable by maximum six months or/and fine up to `1,000
Section 337: Causing hurt by act endangering life, entails jail up to six months and/or fine up to `500
Section 338: Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life, punishable by jail up to two years and/or fine up to `1,000
Section 304A: Causing death by negligence, may lead to jail for two years and/or fine
Section 201 and 212: Harbouring offender and causing disappearance of evidence or giving false information; jail term awarded as per the main offence
Initial cover-up: Cops under fire
The police initially registered a cross-case against the drivers of both the vehicles, including 34-year-old Hast Bahadur, who was driving the Tavera taxi and had died in the accident. It was only after the intervention of the families of the victims that the police dropped the case against the Tavera driver.
After fleeing from the spot, the owner-driver of the Audi, Rajat Kapoor, a resident of Panchkula, reached the Sector-17 police station and claimed that his driver, Sukhpal, who was accompanying him, was driving the car when the mishap took place. The security camera footage from the road showed that Rajat was behind the wheel.
For shoddy investigation, not only did the HC rap the UT cops, but the station house officer of Sector 17, inspector Ram Gopal; police post in-charge, sub-inspector Harminderjit Singh; and investigating officer, sub-inspector Kuldeep Singh; were put under suspension and are now facing departmental inquiry.