By LE Desk
New Delhi, April 20: The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition by Biryani restaurant chain Arsalan owner, Akhtar Parwez, seeking the release of his son on bail in a 2019 hit-and-run case, saying the accused cannot expect a concession only because he is rich.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta yesterday rejected the bail plea after underlining that the accused, Raghib, was driving his Jaguar SUV at a speed of 130-135 km/hour on August 16, 2019, when he smashed into a Mercedes-Benz and led to the death of two Bangladeshis standing nearby.
“Is it not true that you were driving at a speed of more than 130 km/hour? Is it not true that you had a history of violating traffic signals 48 times during the seven months prior to this incident? You want a concession only because you are rich. But we will not do that,” the bench told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Arsalan’s owner, the Hindustan Times reported.
Parwez has been representing his son during the trial, claiming Raghib suffers from a psychological disorder and that he is not capable of facing the trial because of his mental illness.
The Calcutta high court on April 13 ordered Raghib to stand trial after a board of the National Institute of Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, said his psychological conditions were not such that he could not face it.
Relying on this report, the high court cancelled Raghib’s interim bail and directed him to surrender by April 20, failing which he will be arrested. The high court noted that Raghib “after committing the ghastly incident… fled to a foreign country (Dubai).”
Before the top court, Sibal cited Raghib’s mental conditions and added he could not understand the trial procedures and that should be allowed to remain on bail. The senior counsel added that Raghib was incarcerated for eight months after his arrest in 2019 and that no purpose would be served to send him back to jail after the charge sheet has been filed.
But the bench remained unmoved: “Do you mean to say we should release everyone where a charge sheet has been filed? This is always a case-by-case basis. It also depends on the seriousness of the crime. It cannot be that in every case where a charge sheet has been filed, we should give bail to everyone. Is it not correct that you tried to escape and made someone else a scapegoat?”
The court pointed out that claims regarding insanity and mental illness have not been established so far and that an expert committee in fact gave a contradictory opinion. “You take this defence at the trial. We cannot pass any comment on this,” it told Sibal, as reported by the Hindustan Times.
Initially, Arsalan Parvez, Raghib’s younger brother, confessed to having been at the wheel at the time of the accident.
The family claimed Raghib was in Australia for higher studies. But after analysing the data recorder of the Jaguar, police got the phone number of the person who was last at the wheel. From the phone number’s WhatsApp account, police found Raghib’s photograph. A subsequent scan of CCTV cameras also showed Raghib taking out the Jaguar from his home.
Raghib, who had fled to Dubai after the incident, returned to Kolkata two days later and was arrested from a nursing home where he had got admitted after his return.
In April last year, Raghib was given interim bail by the high court after a medical report said he required psychological help.