Four drunk driving cases in Mumbai in which trials are yet to begin | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Four drunk driving cases in Mumbai in which trials are yet to begin

May 22, 2024 08:54 AM IST

With the spotlight turning to the problem of accidents caused by drunk driving, HT revisits some notable drunk-driving cases registered in Mumbai

Mumbai: Early on Sunday, Anis Awadhiya and Ashwini Koshta, both 24, died when their bike was hit by a Porsche allegedly driven by a 17-year-old son of a builder in Kalyani Nagar locality of Pune. Both the victims were flung off the bike because of the impact of the accident. While Ashwini died on the spot, Anis was shifted to a city hospital, where he died soon after.

Janhavi Gadkar who was arrested in 2015 for a drunk driving accident in Chembua
Janhavi Gadkar who was arrested in 2015 for a drunk driving accident in Chembua

While the breathanalyser test of the accused turned negative, police say they have other evidence that he was drunk and have sent his blood sample for analysis and confirmation. With the spotlight turning to the problem of accidents caused by drunk driving, HT revisits some notable drunk-driving cases registered in Mumbai. Three of the cases are recent 2023 and one to 2015, a high-profile case involving a corporate lawyer. Though charge-sheets have been filed in all cases, trials have not begun in any. All the perpetrators got bail, one in three days and the others in months.

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Worli jogger

Victim: On March 19, 2023, a speeding Tata Nexon EV hit and killed jogger Rajalakshmi Ramakrishnan alias Raji, 57, at Worli Sea Face. Raji was the chief executive officer of Altruist Technologies Pvt Ltd, a software firm employing more than 14,000 people with 32 clients and 17 delivery centers spread across India, Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

Perpetrator: Police probe revealed that the car driver, Sumer Merchant, 24, an employee of an event management firm associated with Bollywood, was under the influence of alcohol when the accident took place. The alcohol content in his blood report was 137 mg per 100 ml, as against the permissible limit of 30 mg per 100 ml, as stipulated under Section 188 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The police claimed that he was driving the car at the speed of 90 to 100 km per hour at the time of the accident.

Status of case: Merchant was booked under Sections 304(II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 184 (driving dangerously) and 185 (driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs) of the Motor Vehicles Act. The Worli police have completed the probe in the case and filed a charge-sheet against him. The case is at the pre-trial stage.

Bail: On June 30, 2023, two and half months later, the Sessions Court granted bail to Merchant.

Pile-up at BKC

Victim: On March 7, 2023, a three-year-old girl died, and several others were injured after a drunk driver crashed his vehicle into their car at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), and later also hit multiple vehicles, including autos.

Deceased Swati Chaudhary was with her uncle Om Chaudhary and his friend Vinod Yadav, and they were proceeding towards Kherwadi in a car owned by Yadav’s employer. When they were waiting at the signal at Nabard Junction around 5 pm, a speeding red Volkswagen came from the opposite side and crashed into their vehicle. Swati was pushed towards the windshield of the car and sustained fatal injuries.

Perpetrator: The driver of the Volkswagen was identified as Vishwas Attawar, 54, a resident of Bandra, and a senior executive with an Indian multinational company. Attawar, who was booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, rash and negligent driving and driving under the influence of alcohol, was apprehended from the spot.

Status of case: The Kherwadi police filed a charge-sheet against him in June 2023 and the case is at the pre-trial stage.

Bail: Attawar was released on condition bail barely three days after accident.

Corporate lawyer

Victim: On June 8, 2015, Sadiya S Sabuwala, 22, was returning from Bhiwandi along with her family members by taxi by the Eastern Freeway. Around 1am, their taxi had crossed the tunnel in Chembur, when a red Audi came at high speed from the opposite direction and crashed into the taxi. The impact of the crash left Sadiya’s father and the taxi driver, Mohammed Hussain Abdul Sayyad dead. Others traveling in the taxi, including Sadiya, suffered severe injuries.

Perpetrator: The car was being driven by corporate lawyer Janhavi Ajit Gadkar. The police probe found that the lawyer was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident and was therefore booked by the RCF police under sections 304(ii) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Motor Vehicles Act and the Maharashtra Prohibition Act.

Status of case: The lawyer was arrested right at the spot. Investigation is complete and charge-sheet filed. Arguments are going on. The case is listed for framing of charges on June 14.

Bail: Janhavi spent 58 days behind bars before she was granted bail by the sessions court on August 5, 2015.

Pedestrians mowed down Victim: Sanjay Ram, a 25-year-old labourer, succumbed to his injuries before reaching Cooper Hospital when he was allegedly hit by a tempo driven by a drunk driver. Around 6.30 pm on January 20, 2023, the drunk driver lost control over the tempo driven by him and hit several pedestrians at Central Road in Andheri. Jagan Gade and his two children were also injured in the accident.

Perpetrator: Andheri resident Sandeep Shantaram Bankar, 42, forced his friend and tempo driver Steven Lawrence Rodriguez, 38, to let him drive. The police probe revealed that apart from being under the influence of alcohol, Bankar did not even know how to drive the vehicle.

Both Bankar and Rodrigues fled from the spot after the incident. They were arrested by the police from their respective houses after some time.

Status of case: Three months after the accident, the MIDC police filed a charge-sheet against the two. The case is at the pre-trial stage now.

Bail: In June 2023, Rodriguez was granted bail and Bankar was granted bail in December 2023, nearly 11 months after the accident.

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