Woman hit and drag case: Court rejects Ashustosh Bharadwaj’s bail plea

Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava alleged Bharadwaj had misled the investigation by stating co-accused Deepak Khanna was driving the car.

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The court said "nothing concrete has been done" and directed the government to immediately release Rs 5 lakh as ex-gratia interim payment for each of the minor victims who have lost their life. (Representational image)

The Delhi Police told a metropolitan court on Thursday the live location and Google time line of the accused were yet to be obtained to clearly establish their individual roles in the hit-and-drag case that killed a 20-year-old woman in the national capital.

The court, which rejected the bail plea of accused Ashutosh Bhardwaj, noted the prosecution’s submission that he misled the investigation and conspired with the other accused to destroy the available evidence.

“While looking at the gravity of the matter and the nature of allegations, the investigation being at initial stages and the offences alleged against the accused being exclusively triable by a sessions court, this court is not inclined to grant bail to accused Ashutosh at this stage,” Metropolitan Magistrate Sanya Dalal said.

The judge, while dismissing the application said none of her observations shall be deemed to be a comment on the merits of the case.

“It is the stand of the investigating agency that the live location/Google timeline of all the accused persons are yet to be obtained to clearly establish the role of each accused in pursuance of material collected so far ,” the judge said.

The material collected included CCTV footages, call detail records, statement of witnesses and disclosure statements of the accused, the court noted.

“Further nothing substantial has been put forth by the accused and the CCTV footages relied upon by the accused are not accompanied with certificate under Section 65 B of the Indian Evidence Act,” the court said.

It also noted that while the FIR was registered under sections 279 (rash driving on public way) and 304 A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code, during the investigation some more sections were added.

These are sections 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender), 212 (harboring offender), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 182 ( false information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC, the court said.

Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava alleged Bharadwaj had misled the investigation by stating co-accused Deepak Khanna was driving the car.

He said Bharadwaj provided the car to the other accused and, despite being the first person to be informed about the incident, deliberately withheld the information about the crime.

Instead, he introduced the name of Deepak Khanna as the driver, the APP said, adding it was found during the investigation that another accused Amit was at the wheel.

“There is a thin line of difference between having knowledge and subsequently having knowledge. We are investigating the case…When he (Bharadwaj) was a free man, he misled the investigation. He can mislead again in future,” the APP said.

Raising questions about the conduct of Bharadwaj, the APP said though he was under legal compulsion to inform the police, he misled the prosecution.

“It shows that the accused Bharadwaj might be in agreement with other accused persons,” he said.

The prosecutor said it is never our case that Bharadwaj was inside the car but that he provided the vehicle involved in the accident to another co-accused who did not possess a driving licence.

The prosecution also informed the court that the live location and google time line of the accused persons were yet to be obtained for ascertaining their role in the incident. It said police have analysed the Call Detail Records (CDRs) and CCTV footages related to the crime.

Bharadwaj’s advocate Shilpesh Chaudhary presented a video clip to buttress his claim that he was present at his house at 12.30 am on January 1. He said around 4.23 am, co-accused Ankush, who is currently on bail, made a phone call to him, following which Bharadwaj left his house.

The advocate also said the Google time line and live location of Bharadwaj could be verified to ascertain the accused’s innocence.

Seeking bail, he contended the offences alleged against Bharadwaj are bailable.

Chaudhary also said Bharadwaj had cooperated with police after the alleged incident and helped them arrest two other co-accused.

Police had arrested Deepak Khanna (26), Amit Khanna (25), Krishan (27), Mithun (26), and Manoj Mittal in the case on January 2. Later, they zeroed in on Ashutosh, who was arrested four days later. Accused Ankush had surrendered on Friday and was released on bail the next day.

The remaining six accused were remanded in 14 days judicial custody on January 9.

Anjali Singh (20) was killed in the early hours of the new year day after her scooter was hit by a car, which dragged her for more than 12 kilometres from Sultanpur to Kanjhawala.

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