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Mercedes hit-and-run: Minor to be tried as an adult

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In the first prosecution under the amended Juvenile Justice Act, a minor accused in the Mercedes hit-and-run case in which a 33-year-old Delhi business consultant was killed in April this year will be tried as an adult.

The Juvenile Justice board’s order came while allowing the plea of Delhi Police seeking to try the offender – who was 17 at the time – as an adult, as the offence came under the definition of heinous crime.

The juvenile had turned a major — 18-years-old — just four days after the Mercedes he was driving at high-speed mowed down Siddharth Sharma in Civil Lines in North Delhi late on April 4 evening.

The juvenile would have been tried as a minor if the Act had not been amended.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act 2015 allows for juveniles 16 years or older to be tried as adults for heinous offences like rape and murder. The Act was amended following public outrage after one of the offenders in the December 16, 2012 gang rape case escaped being tried in the court as he was a few months short of turning 18.

The police, in its chargesheet filed on May 26, had charged the juvenile with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which entails a maximum of 10 years in jail.

Police apprehended the minor on April 5, a day after he allegedly fatally knocked down Sharma, who was crossing the road to buy eatables.

The minor was then freed on bail as he was booked under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code. Later police charged him with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In the final investigation report, police charged the juvenile for offences under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 279 (driving on a public way so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life) and 337 (causing hurt by an act which endangers human life).

The juvenile’s father was arrested under Section 304 (abetting culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC for letting his minor son drive despite knowing that he had caused an accident earlier. The father was later released on bail.

Police earlier told the court that CCTV footage showed that the teenager was driving his car at a high speed in a residential area.

The police told the board that the teenager was a repeat offender and that he had a history of traffic violations which included over-speeding and he was booked for it on June 17, 2015.

He was also booked for driving in violation of traffic regulations on February 25, 2014 and for not wearing a seat belt on September 19, 2014.

On February 16, 2016, he was involved in a minor traffic accident at Maurice Nagar area in north Delhi, which was settled but he put a forged signature on the settlement papers to avoid detection, the police had said.

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