Court relied on circumstantial evidence to nail Nanda

September 2nd, 2008 - 10:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) A city court Tuesday relied completely on circumstantial evidence to nail main accused Sanjeev Nanda, son of arms dealer Suresh Nanda and grandson of former navy chief S.M. Nanda, in the BMW hit-and-run case that claimed six lives in January 1999.Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar held Nanda guilty under section 304 (2) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for which maximum punishment is 10 years in jail.

The quantum of sentencing will be announced Wednesday after hearing arguments from prosecution and defence.

This is one of the first instances where a court has convicted the accused in a hit-and-run case under Section 304 (2). In most such cases, the conviction is under Section 304 (1) - causing death by rash and negligent act - in which the maximum sentence is two years.

“Non-examination of Sonali Nanda, sister of Sanjeev Nanda, by the defence led the prosecution to believe that it was Sanjeev who was driving the car at the time of the incident, as refuted by defence counsel on several occasions,” noted the judge in his 87-page order.

The court, however, approved of police investigation to reach Nanda after the accident at the behest of Rajeev Gupta, another accused who has held guilty of destroying evidence.

“I make it clear that entire evidence in this case has to be appreciated in the backdrop of the circumstances that the accused persons have indulged in winning over the witnesses to such an extent that even the victim of this offence is testifying that offending vehicle was a truck,” ruled the judge.

“Sanjeev Nanda was so heavily drunk that knowledge can be validly imputed upon him that if he drives the vehicle he is likely to cause death of a human being passing on the road. Despite being drunk, the accused instead of carefully and slowly driving the vehicle, threw all the precautions away and drove the vehicle at excessively high speed,” said the judge, adding that a vehicle driven by a drunk driver is virtually a death machine on the road.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the verdict, Nanda’s counsel Ramesh Gupta said: “Now, you (mediapersons) might be feeling elated as the acquittal of Nanda would have meant travesty of justice (for media).”

The other accused in the case, businessman Gupta - whose son Siddharth was also in the car but was acquitted in August 1999 - and his two domestic helps Bhola Nath and Sham Singh were held guilty of destroying evidence.

According to the prosecution, Nanda ran over six people, including three policemen, in the wee hours of Jan 10, 1999.

During the arguments, the prosecution proved that Nanda was in an inebriated state at the time of the accident.

Those killed in the accident were Mehdi Hasan, Nazir and Ghulam and three constables Rajan Kumar, Ram Raj and Perulal.

There were three people in the car at the time - Nanda, Manik Kapoor and Siddharth Gupta. After the accident, they fled from the scene and reached Gupta’s residence in Golf Links where Rajiv Gupta and his domestic helps washed off the stains from the BMW car.

The police arrested all six the next day. While the three in the car were charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the three who helped wash the car were accused of destroying evidence.

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