The Case of the Red Car
The Case of the Red Car
It was yet another ordinary day of my life when the morning began and no events had occurred during the course of the day which forebode of heightened drama later in the evening. I had been retired for some years now and only some occasional writing was a saving grace in my daily routine of eat, sleep and exercise. Of late I have been creating puns regularly and I thought to myself each day of the week is ‘munday’ne for me.
Due to some knee problem I had taken to regular cycling, in the evenings and I had set out as usual for my day’s quota of exercise but no fresh air on the roads of Bangalore. That was when I had passed a speeding red car from the opposite direction. I cursed the bribe culture that enabled getting licenses for a black fee at the road transport office. I had written a joke about this too under the dad and daughter series. It goes like this
Daughter: Dad, I am told that there is a fixed ‘black’ fee at the RTO for various permits. What does it cost to get a 4-wheeler license?
Dad: usually cost a few hit and run deaths on the road.
I had shared it in Quora.com and it had received a few likes.
I wondered when the driver of the red car would get his due!
I usually cycle for about 10 kms and decided once again to proceed towards Byapanahalli metro station as large part of the road has been newly laid and was easy on the back especially for a cyclist. Off I was on the road to the metro. A train by pushing out a whiff of wind towards me. I was back at the main road and stopped by D-Mart where I buy some fruits with the lady vendor. I just paid her by Paytm when I heard the screeching of the tyres followed by a loud scream. It was the red car again and he had hit a passer-by. I had some presence of mind to take a picture of the car and the license plate. The driver didn’t even step out and sped away. As the car left the scene, I saw a man lying on the road in a pool of blood. Somebody shouted for a rickshaw and a rickshaw came. A few men lifted the unconscious man and put him inside the rickshaw and one of them moved inside while another got in the front along with the rider. I heard some one shouting the name of Koshy Hospital near-by. All this had happened in a flash. I wondered to myself if I would have dared go along to the hospital knowing very well the SC order that in accident victim cases hospital must first admit the victim before registering any police case. I also recalled a theory that poor people having the least amount of stake, wealth and nothing to lose usually come forward easily in such dire situation.
I felt a twinge of guilt and cycled towards the police station to lodge a FIR about the accident. The driver must no get away with such impunity, I told myself. I had shared the picture of the car with a reporter friend of mine, Neelkanth who works with Deccan Herald informing him of the accident. I also emailed a copy of the photo to self before I met with the head constable and lodged the FIR. I showed him the photo as proof when I wrote the FIR. I also mentioned to the Head constable that I have shared the picture with a reporter friend from Deccan Herald.
I cycled my way next to Koshy hospital. By the time I reached there a good one hour had passed. Somebody had informed the parents of the accident victim and the mother was uncontrollably sobbing when I reached the hospital. One of the men who accompanied was a vendor and his face was familiar.
Then the doctor came out and informed that the youth was out of danger. Some blood transfusion was done and X-ray indicated a hip fracture. There were some superficial skin abrasions on the hand and leg. He needs to be operated for the hip fracture and would require a couple of months for recovery.
I had told the doctor and the youth’s parent that I have filed a FIR. The doctor directed me to the administration section to complete formalities. The youth’s father thanked me for filing the FIR and said angrily that the driver must be brough to the books.
My friend Neelkanth called me to say that he would file a report in the newspaper next day. He further added that he had informed his wife Neeraja, who was a lawyer but active in a voluntary group that dealt with legalities of accident victims. He warned me if the driver or the car belonged to some hot-shot I might be harassed to take back the FIR. I should be in touch with him or his wife to deal further with the matter should the police call me. I had thought as much and agreed to keep in touch with him.
Within the next twenty hours I got a call from the Head constable that I should visit the police station regarding the FIR I had filed as the Sub-Inspector wanted to ask me a few questions. I had promptly informed Neelkanth who said that he would bring his wife and we should all go over to the police station to deal with the case further. He added that the red car belonged to the ex-minister who still has considerable clout with the ruling dispensation.
At the appointed time my friend picked me up and we met the sub-Inspector. I had introduced myself as the FIR complainant and Neeraja introduced herself as my lawyer and rattled out a few sections from the IPC code related to road accident, how witness protection and confidentiality are supremely important and a case of negligence or wilful disclosure of information about the witness is a criminal liability even for the police officers. The SI got the message loud and clear. The SI said that the car belonged to the ex-Minister and there was pressure on him to get the FIT withdrawn. Some one representing the ex-Minister is already in touch with the victim’s family for an out of court settlement. It was once again the Neeraja who spoke that a road accident is not only about the victim or the witnesses but has ramifications for road safety in general. She rattled out some data about how Bangalore is one of the cities with highest road accident incidents. She said eloquently that the law must take its due course and the SI would work towards upholding the law. We took leave as there was nothing much for the SI to ask me any questions. On the way to my home, she said that process in on to register the case with the District Magistrate and then it would become impossible to stop the case from being investigated. Then we drove to the spot of the accident and she talked to a few people including the fruit vendor lady from whom I had purchased the fruit and the vendor who had accompanied the victim to the hospital. She would file a report at the office of the District Magistrate that would ensure the case would get a preliminary hearing. Of course, she added with an air of resignation that by itself isn’t sufficient enough for the magistrate to dispose the case in favour of the ex-minister. In which case she would proceed to the High Court which has got some few upright judges who brook no non-sense in matter of law.
At home over a cup of coffee the lawyer told my worried wife that I am safe as she has given sufficient warnings to the SI about preach of witness confidentiality. Neeraja added that in general it is believed that law is an ass which is not true. It is the law keepers like the police and the low level district magistrates who behave like assholes that puts the citizens at disadvantage. While leaving she said that I need not worry about getting any more calls from the SI. Next exposure to the wheel of justice would be to testify about the FIR I had filed. She would be there to protect me. Till then she said “sleep well.”
As Neeraja had predicted the DM was indeed an asshole and he gave bail to the ex-minister’s son. It was then up to Neeraja to take up the process with the HC and knowing fully well how the HC works she filed the review petition with an upright judge who then quashed the bail. Now the case is with the HC and it really didn’t matter that how long the case would get take to get resolved. The driver of the car was behind bars and he would have learnt the lesson of his life in the mean-time. As far as me was concerned I didn’t get any call from the SI or from the ex-minister’s goons. I thought to myself that a lawyer as a friend is indeed a friend in dire-needs. I also heard that the victim’s father had received some amount in cash that was handy for meeting hospital expenses for his son from the ex-minister. Though in this case it became a humanitarian assistance rather than help lessen his son’s criminality in the road accident incident. The victim himself was up and about after two months of bed rest.