Singer's driver gets bail

The high court today granted bail to the driver of the car that had crashed on March 7 and left singer Kalikaprasad Bhattacharjee dead, saying the youth had been unjustly charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

By OUR LEGAL REPORTER
  • Published 17.05.17
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May 16: The high court today granted bail to the driver of the car that had crashed on March 7 and left singer Kalikaprasad Bhattacharjee dead, saying the youth had been unjustly charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Arnab Rao, the driver, was arrested on March 12.

Justice Ashim Kumar Roy, the senior judge on the division bench that granted Rao bail, observed that the investigators should have charged the 22-year-old under IPC Section 304A (death due to rash driving), instead of 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).

The maximum punishment under Section 304 is 10 years' imprisonment, while that under Section 304A is two years' jail.

"Though the driver in his statement under Section 161 (statement before the police) has admitted that the accident was caused by speeding, Section 304 of IPC should not be slapped on him. Moreover, there is no possibility of him tampering with the evidence if he is released on bail. So, this court is granting the petitioner bail," the bench ruled.

The bench directed Rao to furnish a bail bond of Rs 20,000 with two sureties.

"The petitioner is also directed to meet the investigating officer of the case once a week," the order read.

Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee, the lawyer appearing for Rao, had said after filing the bail petition on May 11 that he would draw the court's attention to the difference in treatment meted out to his client and actor Vikram Chatterjee.

"While Rao is in custody for such a long duration, the actor, involved in a similar case, had not been arrested at all," lawyer Chatterjee had said.

When lawyer Apalak Basu, Chatterjee's junior, sought to move the case today before the division bench of Justice Roy and Justice Amitava Chatterjee, the senior judge stopped him and asked state counsel Prasun Dutta to produce the case records.

After going through the records, Justice Roy told Dutta: "The statement of the accused under IPC section 164 (statement before magistrate) has not yet been obtained. In our consideration, the petitioner should be granted bail."

Rao was at the wheel of the Toyota Innova ferrying Kalikaprasad and his friends when it veered off Durgapur Expressway, hit a crash barrier and plunged 15ft into a ditch near Gurap in Burdwan district.

Vikram was at the wheel of his Toyota Corolla Altis when it crashed on Rashbehari Avenue early on April 29, leaving model Sonika Singh Chauhan, whom the actor was driving home, fatally injured.

Vikram, charged under Section 304A, surrendered before a court on May 5 and got bail immediately.