Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday questioned the locus standi (the right or capacity of a person to file a plea in a court) of a person who has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions that Kasa Police in Maharashtra’s Palghar add stringent non-bailable sections of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against Dr Anahita Pandole.
FPJ had first reported on December 24, 2022, that the PIL was filed by one Sandesh Jedha seeking that Darius Pandole, Anahita’s husband, be included in the chargesheet as an accused for abetment of culpable homicide.
Court: ‘What is your locus? How are you concerned in this case?’
The petitioner raised grievance over the police only charging the accused with Section 304A of the IPC, which deals with causing death by negligence.
His advocate Sadiq Ali said: “There have to be more charges.”
The division bench of acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne initially questioned Jedha’s advocate whether he could approach the High Court on such aspects.
“This is a job of a Magistrate. It is he who can decide what charges to put. You want us to do [functions of] of Magistrate … What is your locus? How are you concerned in this case?” asked Justice Gangapurwala.
When Ali replies that he is a “public-spirited individual”, justice Gangapurwala remarked that there were more deserving causes for PILs to be filed. He said, “You can prosecute cause for hospital, endangering of lives of citizens around you, you can seek PIL. The police may add any charges, but it is for the Magistrate to consider that.”
However, the advocate insisted that they have evidence which shows that the driver of the vehicle carrying Mistry, among others, was under the influence of alcohol. He referred to a CCTV footage allegedly indicating that Pandole had been consuming liquor at a café late on the previous night before she drove the vehicle carrying Mistry, among others.
Next hearing on Jan 17
Senior Advocate Rafique Dada, appearing for Darius Pandole, opposed the plea saying: “This campaign must now end. Let him go to the Magistrate.”
Anahita Pandole’s lawyer, Senior Advocate Abad Ponda, said: “It is premised on the imagination that she was under alcohol. There were tests conducted.”
Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai, appearing for Maharashtra government, clarified that they had conducted the requisite alcohol test and “the tests were negative.”
Dada argued that the petitioner has claimed that there have been multiple deaths then why is he targeting this case only.
To this Ali said they have documents and sought time to place the same before the court.
The PIL has also prayed for High Court to monitor the investigation in the deaths of Industrialist Cyrus Mistry alleging that police have been very lenient. The petition further asked for framing guidelines for the safety of vehicular passengers in case of dangerous and drunk driving.
The HC has kept the PIL for hearing on January 17.
Cyrus Mistry car accident
Dr Ananhita Pandole was behind the wheel on the fateful day when the car industrialist Cyrus Mistry was present in got into an accident on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway on September 4, 2022, killing Mistry and Anahita’s brother-in-law Jehangir Pandeole. Anahita and Darius both suffered grevious injuries.