Releasing 30-year-old businessman Sushil Kothari, who smashed his Honda Accord into a two-wheeler on Wednesday killing the pillion rider, on bail could cause communal tension. This is what the Marine Drive police told the Esplanade Metropolitan Magistrate on Thursday while requesting Kothari’s custody.
A drunk Kothari was driving his Honda Accord along Marine Drive early on Wednesday morning when he hit a scooter, knocking down the rider and the pillion rider. Fifty-two-year-old Abdul Rehman Shaikh, who was riding the scooter, survived because he was wearing a helmet. His friend Haji Zulfikar Mohammed Qureshi (48) died immediately. “If Kothari is released, there will be communal tension and people will not believe in law,” Police Inspector (Administration) P.A. Repale told the court.
The court, however, refused to consider this ground. “The police say the accused and the victim are from different communities and if Kothari is released there would be some differences between the communities…but this ground cannot be considered,” the magistrate said.
The court granted the Marine Drive police Kothari’s custody until September 4 because they said they needed to conduct further investigations and record statements of witnesses. Repale did not wish to comment on his reasoning in court. “Whatever I’ve said in the remand copy is between me and the court,” he said. The Marine Drive police have arrested Kothari for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The offence attracts a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.
After the accident, Kothari sped towards Walkeshwar, hitting four parked vehicles along the way. The police intercepted him at Malabar Hill and arrested him. Kothari’s lawyers, Sanjog Parab and Satish Maneshinde, argued that six motorcycles were speeding across Marine Drive to Malabar Hill that night and one of them hit his car, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
“It’s an unfortunate incident,” Maneshinde said. He argued the remand application did not mention that Kothari had the intention to kill and the witnesses’ statements also did not indicate that Kothari had knowledge of the accident. The victims’ lawyer, Farhana Shah, countered the argument.
“He is an educated person and is aware of consequences of drink driving,” Shah said. “The accused (Kothari) did not even have the courtesy to stop and help the victim. Instead he fled the scene and caused another accident at Malabar Hill,” he added.