"Accident Serious, But...": High Court Orders Pune Porsche Teen's Release

Engineers Ashwini Kostha and Aneesh Awadhiya were killed on the spot after the speeding Porsche hit their bike

The teernager has been released from the observation home.


The teen accused in the Pune Porsche accident case must be released from detention immediately, the Bombay High Court ruled today. The 17-year-old boy's late-night dash in a Porsche on May 19 left two 24-year-old engineers dead and sparked nationwide outrage.

"We are bound by law, the aims and objectives of the Juvenile Justice Act and must treat him as any child in conflict with law separately from adult, despite the seriousness of the crime," said the bench of Justice Bharati Dangre and Justice Manjusha Deshpande.

The court observed that the Juvenile Justice Board's order, remanding him in an observation home, was illegal and passed without jurisdiction. It clarified that the teenager is under rehabilitation and had been referred to a psychologist and these sessions will continue. The court noted that rehabilitation is the "primary objective". "The CCL (child in conflict with law) is under 18. His age needs to be considered," the court said.

The ruling came on a habeus corpus petition by the boy's aunt, who had sought his release from a government observation home. The teen will now be under the care of his aunt, as his parents and grandfather have been arrested for an attempted cover-up.

Later in the evening, the teenager left the observation home and was received by his family members. A police vehicle escorted them out. 

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Prashant Patil, the lawyer for the boy's aunt, said that the Section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act is clear: a child in conflict with law cannot be detained. "Our case was simple. Based purely on law, a child in conflict with law cannot be detained in the manner in which he was detained in this case."

Late on May 19, a speeding Porsche driven by the teen had hit a bike. Engineers Ashwini Kostha and Aneesh Awadhiya, who were on the bike, were killed on the spot. Eyewitnesses claimed that the teen, who was with two friends, was heavily drunk at the time of the accident. CCTV footage from a pub he had visited showed him drinking with his friends before the crash. The teen was thrashed by the crowd that had gathered at the accident spot and handed over to cops.

Within 15 hours of the accident, the teen, son of a prominent Pune realtor, was out on bail. The bail conditions set by the Juvenile Justice Board were widely seen as flimsy and sparked widespread outrage -- he was asked to write a 300-word essay on accidents, work with traffic police for 15 days and seek counselling for his drinking habit. Amid public outrage, the Juvenile Justice Board modified its order and sent the teenager to an observation home.

The police's investigation, meanwhile, revealed shocking attempts by his family members to hush up the matter. The probe found that blood samples were switched to manipulate the teenager's report, and the family's driver was threatened and asked to take the blame. As the probe widened, the police arrested the boy's parents and his grandfather.

Earlier this month, the boy's paternal aunt approached the Bombay High Court and challenged the boy's detention. The petition said the order remanding the teenager in the observation home was in "complete violation" of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

"It is alleged that the CCL (child in conflict with law) was behind the wheel and was driving under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred. Before going to the other important facts that are relevant for adjudication of the present petition, it is necessary to highlight that, no matter from what perception this unfortunate incident is looked at, it was an accident and the person who was said to be driving the vehicle was a minor," the petitioner said.

The high court had earlier noted that while two people had lost their lives, "the child was also in trauma". It had also asked police the provision under which the juvenile justice board modified its bail order. The bench noted that police have not filed any application before a higher court, seeking cancellation of the bail order passed by the board.

"What type of remand is this? What is the power to remand? What kind of procedure is this where a person has been granted bail and then a remand is passed taking him in custody," the court said.

"He is a person who has been granted bail, but now he has been confined to an observation home. Is this not confinement? We would like to know your source of power," the court had asked, adding that it expected the Juvenile Justice Board to be responsible.