TEN months after a Nagpada teenager and his driver died after their car fell into the elevator shaft of a multi-storey building in a South Mumbai neighbourhood, the Mumbai Police have been asked by a metropolitan magistrate’s court to re-investigate the deaths, this time turning the spotlight on whether there might have been negligence in maintaining the elevator.
Over the last weekend, in a similar case, a 12-year-old girl died when she peeped into an elevator shaft of a Bandra building and the lift car that was on its way down hit her head.
Hafeez Patel (14) and his driver Javed Ahmed (26) died on April 20, 2016, and a police probe found that the teenager was behind the wheel.
The minor was booked under Sections 304(a) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 279 (rash driving) of the IPC and the driver was booked under Section 5 (responsibility of owners of motor vehicles for contravention).
Subsequently, investigators had sought permission to file an “abated summary” report as both the accused were dead. In February this year, a metropolitan magistrate in Mazgaon court ordered further investigation whose report was to have been submitted by March 17. Advocate Nazima Siddiqui, who represents the Patels, had claimed that the Nagpada police never submitted their investigation report.
Inspector Pandurang Sanas, one of the lead investigators, however, dismissed the development. “We have submitted a closure report but it is pending with the court. The father of the deceased pleaded to the court saying his son is not an accused. There is nothing to investigate further and we have not been asked to re-investigate. The lift maintenance company has not been made an accused,” he said.
Hafeez’s father Aiyub had submitted to the magistrate’s court that the lift maintenance company had ignored two calls regarding the malfunctioning elevator. Aiyub told the court that a maintenance team inspected the place of incident but ignored the damaged part of the lift. “If the company had taken proper care, the accident could have been avoided,” Aiyub told The Indian Express.
According to the court order, the IO had mainly relied on the report of the electric inspector. According to the police, based on CCTV footage, the incident took place at 12.22 pm. However, the duo were found dead in the mangled car nearly five hours later.
The magistrate’s order said there appears to be a lacuna in the mechanism of the lift. “IO failed to make investigations regarding the averments made by the applicant Aiyub Patel … Accused would be liable even though there has been a degree of negligence on the part of the other side. Negligence of the part of the maintenance lift cannot be overlooked on the ground that that child in conflict with law Hafeez Patel acted in rash and negligent manner. Whether (there is) negligence or not would be further subject for investigation. Thus, it is necessary to make further investigation with respect to the contention raised by the applicant Aiyub Patel,” read the court’s order.
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