Car owner was booked and Arrested for Abetment to Culpable Homicide when his minor son caused fatal accident.
A speeding Mercedes Benz car had killed a 35-year-old business consultant in North Delhi’s Civil Lines on last Monday evening.
Eyewitnesses had told the police that there were four to five “boys” in the car; individual accounts recounted that as many as eight persons were in the car, a couple of them in their pre-teens.
The victim Siddharth Sharma, a resident of White House Apartments in Civil Lines, was walking towards home when the hit and run incident took place around 9 p.m. near Ludlow Castle School.
Dropped off at Sham Nath Marg by his college friend, who he had shared a cab with, Sharma first went to a local eatery and got some noodles packed before proceeding to cross the road, said his friend Divya.
“While crossing the road at that junction, he was hit by the speeding Mercedes. Eye witnesses told us that it was being driven at high speed and in a rash manner,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Madhur Verma.
Injured Died in the Hospital
Eye witnesses had claimed that Sharma was hit at a speed of minimum 80-100 kmph. He was flung at least 15-20 feet in the air by the collision, said Divya who also shared the video of a purported eyewitness recounting the accident.
The car went on to hit the road divider which led to tyre bursts on the right side. It was partially damaged and came to a halt in about 20-30 meters. The occupants got off the car and fled the spot.
Locals shifted Sharma to Sant Parmanand Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
The victim, the son of a retired Naval officer, hailed from Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district and lived in the Capital with the in-laws of his sister Shilpi who is married to film director Yogesh Mittal.
The police reached the spot and impounded the vehicle. With the help of its registration number plate, they traced its owner.
“However, when we tried to contact the owner or his family members they were not found at their residence nor was there any response to the calls made by us,” said Mr. Verma.
Initially FIR was registered for causing death by rash and negligent driving u/section 279, 304 A IPC
Police had initially registered a case of causing death by negligence and rash driving against unidentified persons.
It was around Tuesday evening that the Driver’s Family finally joined the investigation and were questioned.
“We subjected them to questioning to find out who was driving the vehicle.”said Police.
Driver’s Family tried to plant wrong person as Accused
Shades of the trial of the hit-and-run case against actor Salman Khan were witnessed in the case when an employed driver working for the family claimed responsibility for the accident, said the police.
This sudden twist in the Civil Lines hit-and-run case took the investigators by surprise. The police, however, busted his claim by confronting him with counter questions. The driver backtracked when he was informed that the victim Siddhartha Sharma had died.
“Early in the morning, the driver visited the police station and claimed that he had hit Siddhartha Sharma. We suspect he was tutored by the father of the accused,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Madhur Verma.
“It is here that he got a little confused and we sensed that he perhaps was not even present at the accident site, let alone having caused the accident. It seems he was told to take the blame by assuring that the victim will survive and he will get away with a lesser punishment along with the promise of a reward. We are probing further,” said Mr. Verma.
A statement released by Sharma’s friend Divya also said that the owner and a few others arrived at the hospital where the victim was undergoing treatment and were unrepentant for the wrong doing. This, however, was not corroborated by the police who managed to contact the owner only on Tuesday.
“The boys were going to play basketball. We are probing if the accused had consumed alcohol,” said Mr. Verma.
Police arrested and released the Juvenile Driver
The police had apprehended the son of the vehicle’s owner who was allegedly driving the car at the time of the accident. The accused is a minor, just two months short of turning 18 years old. The father of the boy will also be booked under relevant provisions for allowing a minor to drive.
The accused minor was charged with causing death by negligence and rash and negligent driving besides prosecuting him for driving without licence. He was later let off. The offence being bailable, he could not be sent to a juvenile home.
His father, a builder, has been found to have violated Section 5 read with Section 180 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which can attract imprisonment of three months, a fine of Rs. 1,000 or both.
However, the police do not have arresting power and it is the court’s discretion whether he would be imprisoned or not. Either way, this has left the family and friends disappointed who allege that not only would the father-son duo walk away with a lighter punishment but there was delay in police action as well.
Siddharth’s father Hemraj Sharma, a retired Navy officer, questioned why the police waited for nearly a day to nab the accused when they knew about the owner and his address.
“The police action was not swift. Is it because the father of the accused is an influential man? And what kind of a law is this where a murderer walks free while a whole family suffers,” asked Mr. Sharma questioning the police action as well as the existing laws.
Asked about the parents’ outrage, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Madhur Verma defended his force and said prompt action had been ensured by issuing notices but the accused was not present at his residence when the police first went there.
The police further said that because it was an accident, the father could not be booked for criminal conspiracy either.
CCTV footage of the incident appears and it changed the scenario
A chilling video of Monday’s Civil Lines hit-and-run case is being shared on the social media, and it captures the moment when Siddharth Sharma was tossed in the air after being hit by the speeding Mercedes.
The 17-year-old accused, who turns 18 on Friday (April 8), and his father have seen massive outrage since the video emerged.
The video was shared with Saj Khanna, a friend of the 32-year-old deceased.
He is now one of those leading a campaign for stricter action against the accused boy and his father who, according to the protesters, have benefited from the existing laws.
In the less than two-minute long clip, Siddharth is seen crossing the road when all of a sudden the silver-colour Mercedes comes into the frame.
The image, captured by a closed circuit television camera in one of the nearby buildings, reveals the contrast in the speed of the car and that of other vehicles plying on the road.
It shows Siddharth is not at fault as he is seen checking both sides of the road before crossing, pacing his steps in tune with the traffic flow and the average speed of vehicles on the road.
The victim and the bag he is carrying go up, falling at least a few metres away from each other, though where Siddharth lands is beyond the range of the camera.
The video captures the moment Siddharth was tossed in the air after being hit
Victim’s Family launched a campaign demanding stronger action against the Driver and Owner of the Mercedes Car
The family and supporters of Civil Lines hit-and-run victim Siddharth Sharma had to launch a campaign demanding stronger action against the minor who was driving the Mercedes which hit Siddharth on Monday night.
Siddharth’s friends held a candlelight march in his memory from a place close to his residence here to the Chief Minister’s residence; the route also included the accident spot.
They have also launched an online campaign mobilising voices on all platforms and using the hashtag #Justice4Sid.
They alleged that both the accused and his father were using their clout to get away easily. They even said they had links with a particular political party.
Police invoked the stringent provisions of Law, Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder u/s 304 IPC
Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Madhur Verma said the investigations revealed that the boy had previously indulged in rash and negligent driving and was involved in another accident in February as well. Back then, his car, being driven at a high speed like in the latest case, had brushed past another causing the driver to lose balance.
The Civil Lines hit-and-run case accused, who turned 18 on Friday, has a history of rash and negligent driving, said the police.
In addition to two instances where his over-speeding resulted in accidents, the second being fatal, sources said the youth was challaned for over-speeding in March.
Mr. Verma said it was the investigation which led to slapping of the Homicide charges against the boy.
“On examination of CCTV footage the possibility that the juvenile offender knew that his extremely fast driving in a residential area can cause death cannot be ruled out,” said Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma.
However, Siddharth’s sister Shilpa, who met the top cop on Friday, said that the police chief had instructed the investigators to slap the said charges.
Shilpa said that the strictest possible punishment be given to the culprits. “Friends and supporters who had been running a campaign against the accused family, had planned a protest on Sunday but in the changed circumstances they will gather to spread the message of solidarity with people who have lost their children in similar cases,” said Shilpa.
Police did not comment on whether the driver, who first turned in and confessed to the crime, will also be booked in the case
Father of Juvenile Driver, also Regd. owner of Car, Arrested for Abetting Culpable Homicide u/Sections 109/304 IPC
The businessman whose minor son was driving the Mercedes in the Civil Lines Hit-And-Run case has been arrested for allegedly abetting the fatal accident in which 32-year-old Siddharth Sharma was killed.
The boy himself has been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, a more serious offence than causing death by negligence provision slapped initially against him.
While the boy may still get away by spending some time in a correction home if held guilty, the father faces life imprisonment. An abettor, under IPC section 109, can be given the maximum punishment for the primary offence.
The last time Delhi police booked someone under culpable homicide in such a matter was in the Sanjeev Nanda BMW case 17 years ago, a senior official said.