A man accused of dragging a hapless traffic constable for 30 to 40 feet alongside his Tata Sumo in 2010 has been acquitted by a court owing to the police’s shoddy investigation and lengthy delays in the commencement of the trial.
On August 10, 2010, traffic police constable Tushar Tawade was posted at Sion Bridge on the Eastern Express Highway. Around 11.30am he tried to stop a speeding Tata Sumo coming from Chembur.
According to the police, Javed Shaikh, the driver of the Sumo, stopped his vehicle on Tawade’s instructions. But when Tawade asked for his license, Shaikh allegedly grabbed his hand and slammed the accelerator. The police said Shaikh dragged Tawade for 30 to 40 feet before letting him go. A passing biker took the injured Tawade to Surana Sethiya hospital in Chembur. Shaikh was subsequently arrested by the Sion police and a charge sheet filed against him at the magistrate court in Kurla.
The case remained pending until this year. When the magistrate decided to begin the trial, he noticed that his court did not have jurisdiction over the case, which could only be tried by a sessions court. Accordingly, the magistrate transferred the case to a sessions court in February.
Tawade was the first of four witnesses examined by the prosecution. During his deposition, he himself pointed out shortcomings in the police’s probe. He said that the investigating officer had failed to impound his uniform or conducted an identification parade of suspects, which is mandatory. He also admitted that the police hadn’t provided him with a description of the accused, and said the first time he saw him after the incident was in court.
In addition, a key witness – the biker who took Tawade to hospital – said he could not identify the accused, or even recall the incident, owing to the delay in the trial. He was declared hostile. The prosecution also failed to produce any other witnesses or Tawade’s medical records in court.
The original investigating officer, who had collected the medical reports from the hospital, died during the investigation, after which the records could not be found. The doctor who treated Tawade was also not available as he had left the hospital. The hospital, too, had disposed of the records.
“The Sion bridge is very crowded area. Not a single statement of any independent witness was recorded. Even owner of the Tata Sumo was not examined by the prosecution. For want of any independent eyewitness and medical evidence, the prosecution has failed miserably to prove the offence against the accused,” the court said while acquitting Shaikh.