Police on Friday arrested BJP lawmaker Hema Malini’s driver, a day after her Mercedes collided with a Maruti Alto in Rajasthan killing a two-year-old girl and leaving the actor and four others injured.

    He was produced in court and later granted bail. Officials said Uttar Pradesh resident Mahesh Thakur, the accused, was facing charges of culpable homicide and causing death by negligence.

    Television footage showed Mathura MP Hema Malini walking away from the spot with blood dripping down her face following the crash on National Highway 11 near Dausa district in the western state.

    The incident brought the spotlight back on India’s dangerous roads where about 200,000 people die every year in traffic accidents, according to WHO data. Last year, Hema Malini’s party colleague Gopinath Munde was killed in a car crash in Delhi nearly a week after the 64-year-old took office as the country’s rural affairs minister.

    While the infant travelling in the Maruti hatchback reportedly died on the spot, her parents, a four-year-old brother and an aunt are undergoing treatment at a government hospital in Jaipur.

    Hema Malini, who was in the back seat of the Mercedes, was admitted to a private medical centre with a nasal fracture and injuries to her forehead, cheeks and legs.

    “A surgery of debridement (removal of damaged tissues) and repair of lacerated wounds was carried out post-midnight,” said Pratim Tambole, facility director at the Fortis hospital. “It was a two-hour long process under general anaesthesia. She is now in post-operative intensive care unit.”

    The 66-year-old actor was going to Jaipur after visiting a temple in Rajasthan’s Karauli district when her car crashed into the Maruti Alto carrying the family headed to Lalsot city.

    Read: After criticism, Hema Malini expresses sorrow over child's death

    Car crash victims protest 'lavish attention' to Hema Malini

Consumer committee sets 45 new conditions to accept complaints

Consumer activists and lawyers practicing in consumer forums across Maharashtra have opposed a new checklist issued by the Maharashtra State Consumer Commission. They feel that the technicalities involved in the scrutiny list, which contains 45 items to be checked before a district forum accepts a complaint, will make access to consumer forums more difficult.

The checklist includes items such as the kind of paper to be used for filing complaint, margins to be left on sides, and space to be left between the lines. It also makes it mandatory for the complainant to mention his age, occupation, and all communication details including a complete addresses, email addresses of both the complainant and the opposite party against whom the complaint is filed.

In any of the conditions are not complied with, the complaint would remain under objection, which would be required to be removed within 15 days. If the objections are not removed, the complaint would not be accepted, said a source in the State Consumer Commission on condition of anonymity.

Consumer activists and lawyers feel the scrutiny list would make it cumbersome for consumers to access the forums and seek redressal of their grievances without the aid of an advocate or an NGO, and is likely to make the filing process a complicated one.

"The checklist issued by the commission defeats the very purpose of the statute [The Consumer Protection Act]," said Shirish Deshpande, president of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP). "The law intends to provide simple, speedy and less expensive redressal of consumer complaints. However, this instructions list is contrary to the spirit of the legislation, and must be withdrawn," he added.

Deshpande said MGP is planning to initiate action for withdrawal of the checklist. "If such a list has to be issued, it should be published by way of rules under the Act," he said.

 

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