NATION

Bala Acquitted

  Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Parveen Kumar Bala, was yesterday acquitted of his charge of causing death by dangerous driving. The Lautoka resident magistrate, Rangajeeva
23 Jul 2016 10:08
Bala Acquitted

 

Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Parveen Kumar Bala, was yesterday acquitted of his charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

The Lautoka resident magistrate, Rangajeeva Wimalasena, said even if the prosecution took the case to its highest, no reasonable court could convict the accused as the evidence of the witnesses were manifestly unreliable and discredited by cross examination.

Bala, charged under the name of Bala, denied dangerous driving occasioning the death of Puna Chand at Teidamu near Lautoka in November, 2013.

The case was taken up for hearing this year July 5 and the prosecution concluded its case on July 6.

Magistrate Wimalasena said the prosecution called five witnesses and following the closure of the prosecution’s case; Bala’s lawyer filed submissions of no case to answer on July 15.

Magistrate Wimalasena said the evidences adduced by the prosecution which included key witnesses the deceased’s wife Arun Wati, and the investigating officer, Sergeant Rajendra Kumar.

He said the deceased’s wife’s statement was contradictory to her first statement during her re-examination and so was that of Sergeant Kumar.

In his conclusion Magistrate Wimalasena said it was clearly evident that the prosecution had not adduced relevant and admissible evidence implicating the accused firstly, in respect of the element that the accused was driving the car and in a dangerous manner.

Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde will next week decide if he would appeal the acquittal.

 

Statement of the Prosecution

Witnesses: Arun Wati

Arun Wati said on November 7, 2013, her husband, Puna Chand called her on her phone to collect groceries and she said “I locked my house and I ran to the road.” She further stated: “I was on the opposite side of the road and saw everything clearly.”

But during the cross examination the witness said: “the bus left and the vehicle was coming from the Ba side and overtook and hit my husband on his hips.”

She testified how her husband flew up and fell down hitting his head to the gravel and she quickly ran to the neighbour to call for help and she quickly saw the number of the vehicle as she went to her husband and lifted him up.

She also mentioned about the help she received from two drivers and that no police spoke to her at the hospital.

Magistrate Wimalasena said that was the only piece of evidence given by the witness.

However during her cross examination the witness stated her husband got on his hips and was on the other side of the road and the point of impact was not inside the road itself.

She also said that she was on her driveway when the incident occurred but soon after she said she was near the FEA post and said the accident happened further away from where she was standing.

 

Sergeant Kumar’s evidence:

Sergeant Kumar said he went to the hospital and saw the victim’s wife asked her what happened and she replied “I don’t know”.

He said upon arriving at the scene he saw the driver of the vehicle and identified him as ‘Bala’.

Later he prepared a rough sketch plan of the accident.

However the Defence objected to it to be marked as the copy of the rough sketch plan which was disclosed to the defence was different to the sketch which was intended to be marked by the prosecution.

Sergeant Kumar later admitted alterations had been made to the rough sketch plan after disclosures were served to the defence.

He also admitted he only saw Bala standing near the car but not driving the car. He gave evidence that there was only a small dent on the vehicle.

Magistrate Wimalasena said the post-mortem result of the deceased stated he died as a result of subarachnoid haemorrhage.

In his summary Magistrate Wimalasena said Sergeanr Kumar’s evidence extensively contradicted that with Ms Wati and that she made many inconsistent statements to the Police.

Magistrate Wimalasena said that Sergeant Kumar clarified that Ms Wati spoke to her at hospital and said she did not know what happened.

Therefore, in his ruling Magistrate Wimalasena dismissed the charges and the acquitted Bala of his charges.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback: arishma.narayan@fijisun.com.fj

 

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