Mercedes hit-and-run: Minor to be tried as an adult

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) In the first prosecution under the amended Juvenile Justice Act, a minor accused in the Mercedes hit-and-run case in which a 33-year-old Delhi business consultant was killed in April this year will be tried as an adult.

The Juvenile Justice board’s order came while allowing the plea of Delhi Police seeking to try the offender – who was 17 at the time – as an adult, as the offence came under the definition of heinous crime.

The juvenile had turned a major — 18 years old — just four days after the Mercedes he was driving at high-speed mowed down Siddharth Sharma in Civil Lines in North Delhi late on April 4 evening.

The juvenile would have been tried as a minor if the act had not been amended.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2015 allows for juveniles 16 years or older to be tried as adults for heinous offences like rape and murder. The Act was amended following public outrage after one of the offenders in the December 16, 2012 gang rape case escaped being tried in the court as he was a few months short of turning 18.

In this case, police, in its chargesheet filed on May 26, had charged the juvenile with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which entails a maximum of 10 years in jail.

According to sources, the juvenile board said that minor offender was able to understand the consequences of the offence on the date of incident and he was not lacking any mental and physical capacity to commit the alleged offence.

“He drove very fast and dangerously despite warning of his friends, who were co-occupant of his car at the time of incident,” the board said, adding that neither he helped the victim nor did he stop the car after causing the incident.

The board observed that he fled from the spot to avoid getting caught for his misdeed.

His conduct before and after the accident clearly reflect that he understood of the alleged offence against him, it said.

The sources further added that the board, in its order, said: “The circumstances collectively indicate that he was indifferent towards life and safety of other users of the road but mature enough to think of ways to escape from lawful punishment of the offence.”

Police apprehended the minor on April 5, a day after he allegedly fatally knocked down Sharma, who was crossing the road to buy eatables.

The minor was then freed on bail as he was booked under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code. Later police charged him with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In the final investigation report, police charged the juvenile for offences under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 279 (driving on a public way so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life) and 337 (causing hurt by an act which endangers human life).

The juvenile’s father was arrested under Section 304 (abetting culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC for letting his minor son drive despite knowing that he had caused an accident earlier. He was later released on bail.

Police earlier told the court that CCTV footage showed that the teenager was driving his car at a high speed in a residential area.

Police told the board that the teenager was a repeat offender and that he had a history of traffic violations which included over-speeding and he was booked for it on June 17, 2015.

He was also booked for driving in violation of traffic regulations on February 25, 2014 and for not wearing a seat belt on September 19, 2014.

On February 16, 2016, he was involved in a minor traffic accident at Maurice Nagar area in north Delhi, which was settled but he put a forged signature on the settlement papers to avoid detection, the police had said.



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