A vacation bench of Calcutta High Court passed an order imposing an interim stay on action against accused actor Vikram Chatterjee for the next month in the case of model Sonika Singh Chauhan’s death.
The order was issued on Thursday by Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee. Chatterjee’s lawyer Tirthankar Ghosh claimed the police did not take the proper steps while probing the case. He also raised questions about how a police officer could investigate a case in which he himself is the complainant.
Objecting to the issue, the public prosecutor and lawyer on behalf of Singh’s father claimed there is no bar on a police officer investigating a case in which he had filed the complaint. After hearing arguments of both parties, Justice Banerjee directed the police to not take any steps against Chatterjee till the next hearing, which will take place two weeks later, after the vacation ends. On the other hand, charges will be framed in the lower court on December 3.
Chatterjee was arrested earlier this year after Sonika’s death in a car crash on April 29, 2017. Chatterjee was behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time of the incident. Chatterjee was arrested and a chargesheet filed against him on July 19, 2017.
On September 28, Chatterjee’s lawyers had sought relief in court, stating no alcohol was found in his blood tests. On October 9, the 16th Additional Sessions Judge at Alipore had ruled that charges be framed against the actor.
“It appears from the forensic report that the speed of the vehicle at the relevant time was 105 kmph and sometimes few seconds the speed was reduced to 93 kmph but no break was used… So the car was flying at a very high speed violating the restriction… the driver definitely had knowledge that such speed will endanger the human life of the person riding in the car… Therefore, it is clear that sufficient materials are present to frame charges against the accused,” the court had observed.
The charges to be framed against Chatterjee include 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety of others) 304A (causing death by negligence) 304(part II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC and Section 185 of the MV act (drunk driving).
Another of Chatterjee’s lawyers, Anirban Guhathakurta, said, “We welcome the Calcutta High Court’s decision. We approached the court when the lower court had turned down our plea to quash the charges. We still maintain negligence in the police investigation and our main argument is still that there is no medical evidence that our client was drunk at the time of the accident.’’
While the Calcutta High Court will hear this matter in two weeks, the murder case is slotted to be heard in the Alipore court on December 3.