Justice delayed? Crime branch yet to file chargesheet in Banastarim case

THE GOAN NETWORK | MAY 24, 2024, 01:15 AM IST

The horrific Porsche accident in Pune involving a 17-year-old who, while driving under the influence of alcohol, killed two young engineers has revived memories of a similar accident at Banastarim last year.

The speeding Mercedes Benz, reportedly driven by the inebriated businessman Shripad Sinai Sawardekar aka Paresh, resulted in the spot deaths of three persons including a couple on bike and three others seriously injured on August 6, 2023.

Despite an accelerated investigation in the initial weeks amid media attention, the case has not proceeded further to begin trial. Sources indicate that a chargesheet against Paresh, AAP President Amit Palekar, and a supposed substitute driver, Ganesh Lamani, has reportedly been prepared but not submitted for review yet. The reasons for this delay remain unclear.

Initially, the Crime Branch cited pending reports from both the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Pune and the State FSL in Verna as reasons for the delay in completing the investigation.

Currently, the delay is attributed to the ongoing election code with police officials claiming there is no urgency as the accused are already out on bail. The chargesheet, though ready, awaits review by the Public Prosecutor before it can be officially filed in court. “Once the code is lifted, the chargesheet copy will be handed over to the PP for a review and approval to further proceed with the matter,” the source said.

More than two dozen witnesses are involved in the case, with Paresh’s wife, Meghana, and their triplets likely as key witnesses, as they were all present in the car at the time of the accident.

However there’s no confirmation about this as the CB officials were not available for comments.

Despite claims otherwise, the CB probe established that it was indeed Paresh who was driving the SUV during the accident, not Meghana.

Reports of blood samples from the SUV’s airbags, and analysis of call, message, and WhatsApp data of the accused persons and others directly involved in the case, have been attached to the investigation papers.

Paresh was arrested for driving recklessly under the influence of alcohol, nearly eight hours after the accident. The ten Mardol police team faced allegations of a cover-up given that the couple belonged to influential families, followed by its Police Inspector’s transfer.

The case was transferred to the CB days later and a nine-member team was formed. This was followed by the arrest of Palekar on charges of allegedly attempting to mislead the police by planting Lamani as a dummy driver. Both were also arrested but bailed out on the same day.

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