Mumbai again! Mercedes runs over five, driver released on bail: Here's what we don't want to see in hit-and-run cases

It is simply tragic when a city that has already suffered so much from tragic hit-and-run cases witnesses yet another hit-and-run incident.

A Mercedes car on Thursday night ran over some people sleeping on the pavement at the Masjid Bhandar Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai. Four women and a child were injured in the incident and have been admitted to the JJ Hospital. Two of the injured are reportedly critical.

The driver of the Mercedes fled the scene after the accident but was later arrested by Mumbai Police.

CNN-IBN reported that the driver, who is a private contractor, has now been released on bail.

This incident brings back sad memories of the other infamous car accidents which have taken place in Mumbai and more importantly, the obvious mistakes or delays in those cases which should've been avoided altogether.

Here are some of the things which we really do not want to see happening in the current or, for that matter, any hit-and-run case:

Blaming the victims

Abhijeet (left) and Farah Khan Ali. Image courtesy: @abhijeetsinger/Twitter and Solaris

Abhijeet (left) and Farah Khan Ali. Image courtesy: @abhijeetsinger/Twitter and Solaris

Probably the most shocking reaction to hit-and-run cases was when some people began blaming the victims for the tragedy. In the infamous 2002 hit-and-run case, Salman Khan had allegedly rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser into American Express Bakery on Hill Road junction in Bandra, killing a person and injuring four others who were sleeping on the pavement.

After a trial court had convicted Salman and had sentenced him to five years in jail (an order which was later quashed by the Bombay High Court), singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya and fashion designer Farah Khan Ali had posted on Twitter, blaming the people sleeping on the road and the government for the accident.

"Kutta rd pe soyega kutte ki maut marega, roads garib ke baap ki nahi (If a dog sleeps on the road, he will die like a dog on the road. The roads don't belong to the poor man's father)," Abhijeet had tweeted.

On other hand, Farah Khan Ali had tweeted, "The govt should be responsible for housing ppl. If no1 was sleeping on d road in any other country Salman wuld not have driven over anybody."

Apart from the obvious fact that no one chooses to sleep on pavements, what people like Abhijeet and Farah Khan Ali do not realise is that the victims in any tragedy cannot be blamed for simply being present at the place where the tragedy took place.

Mistakes made by the police

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

After the Bombay HC acquitted Salman of all charges in the 2002 case, Mumbai Police admitted there had been procedural lapses in the case. In fact, the police top brass issued a circular to all police stations in Mumbai on the procedural lapses and discrepancies in police case as vividly brought out in the final judgment of the Bombay High Court.

As Sandipan Sharma noted in Firstpost article, "The case was destined to be doomed from the beginning. Some years ago, when the Mumbai cops told the trial court that a case diary and 55 documents related to the case were missing, it had become clear that investigators were not keen to preserve the evidence."

When the authorities primarily responsible for the safety of people are unable to preserve evidence required to punish the guilty, one knows there is something seriously wrong with the police in the country.

Reduced punishment for culprits

(From left) Salman Khan, Alistair Pereira and Sanjeev Nanda. Images taken from Solaris, PTI and IBNLive

(From left) Salman Khan, Alistair Pereira and Sanjeev Nanda. Images taken from Solaris, PTI and IBNLive

Apart from the fact that Salman Khan was acquitted of all charges in the 2002 case because of shoddy investigation, there are other examples in which people convicted for their crimes got away with reduced sentences.

In the Alistair Pereira case, in which Pereira had lost control of his car and killed seven people by running over a group of construction workers who were sleeping on the road in 2006, he was initially convicted and sentenced. To six months in jail. After the Bombay High Court increased the sentence to three years, Pereira appealed in the Supreme Court in 2007 and was granted bail. Even though his bail was eventually cancelled and he was sentenced to three years in jail, the sentences given before the final one perhaps could've been avoided.

Another example is the 1999 hit-and-run case in which Sanjeev Nanda, son of indurstrialist Suresh Nanda, had crashed his BMW through a police checkpoint, killing six people. Nanda was convicted and sentenced to five years in jail but his sentence was later reduced to two years by the Delhi High Court.

Time taken for the cases

Representational image. IBNLive

Representational image. IBNLive

The latest judgment acquitting Salman Khan in the 2002 hit-and-run case came in 2015. In that much time, Ravindra Patil, Salman's former police bodyguard and one of the key witnesses who had deposed saying that Salman was at the wheel, died of tuberculosis.

Sanjeev Nanda's two-year sentence came in 2008, nine years after the incident had taken place.

Pereira's final three-year sentence upheld by the Supreme Court came in 2012, six years after the car accident.

Delay in deciding upon cases not only reduces the meaning of the justice delivered but also makes it more probably that important evidence and key witnesses related to those cases are lost.

If such cases could less time in coming to a conclusion, it would be a deterrent to people driving rashly or under the influence of alcohol.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2016 16:47:21 IST

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