Bombay High Court Orders Immediate Release of Teen in Pune Porsche Accident Case

Published on: June 26, 2024 08:19 IST

The Bombay High Court ruled today that the 17-year-old boy accused in the Pune Porsche accident case must be released from detention immediately. The incident, which occurred on May 19, resulted in the deaths of two 24-year-old engineers and ignited nationwide outrage.

“We are bound by law, the aims and objectives of the Juvenile Justice Act, and must treat him as any child in conflict with the law separately from adults, despite the seriousness of the crime,” stated the bench comprising Justice Bharati Dangre and Justice Manjusha Deshpande.

The court found the Juvenile Justice Board’s order, which remanded the teenager to an observation home, to be illegal and beyond its jurisdiction. It was noted that the teenager is undergoing rehabilitation and psychological sessions, which will continue. The court emphasized that rehabilitation is the “primary objective” and highlighted the importance of considering his age, as he is under 18.

The ruling came in response to a habeas corpus petition filed by the boy’s aunt, seeking his release from a government observation home. The court granted custody of the teen to his aunt, as his parents and grandfather have been arrested for attempting to cover up the incident.

Later in the evening, the teenager was released from the observation home and escorted by a police vehicle to his family. Prashant Patil, the lawyer for the boy’s aunt, cited Section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act, stating, “Our case was simple. Based purely on law, a child in conflict with the law cannot be detained in the manner in which he was detained in this case.”

On the night of May 19, the teen, driving a speeding Porsche, collided with a bike, killing engineers Ashwini Kostha and Aneesh Awadhiya instantly. Eyewitnesses claimed the teen was heavily intoxicated at the time of the accident, supported by CCTV footage showing him drinking at a pub earlier. He was detained by bystanders and handed over to the police.

Within 15 hours, the teen, son of a prominent Pune realtor, was released on bail. The bail conditions set by the Juvenile Justice Board were criticized as lenient, requiring him to write a 300-word essay on accidents, work with traffic police for 15 days, and undergo counseling for his drinking habit. Public outcry led the Juvenile Justice Board to modify its order, sending the teen to an observation home.

Police investigations revealed attempts by the teen’s family to cover up the incident, including switching blood samples and threatening the family driver to take the blame. This led to the arrest of the boy’s parents and grandfather.

Earlier this month, the boy’s paternal aunt challenged his detention in the Bombay High Court, arguing that the order violated the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

The high court noted the trauma faced by the child and questioned the legality of the Juvenile Justice Board’s modified bail order. The court criticized the police for not seeking cancellation of the bail order through a higher court and questioned the basis for the remand.

“He is a person who has been granted bail, but now he has been confined to an observation home. Is this not confinement? We would like to know your source of power,” the court stated, emphasizing the responsibility expected of the Juvenile Justice Board.

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