A big industrialist, Suresh Nanda’s son and Naval officer SM Nanda’s grandson Sanjeev Nanda allegedly got drunk in a party in Gurgaon. He was just 21 years old and there were rumors that his family were planning his marriage with a 18-year-old girl named Aditi. After the party got over in Gurgaon Sanjeev and his friends decided to return to their homes.
Sanjeev was instructed not to drive but was behind the wheel anyways. In the early morning at 4 am of 10th January, 1999 while returning from Gurgaon where he attended a party and got drunk, Sanjeev’s BMW car allegedly ran over 6 people including 3 policemen who were in duty by placing a barricade on the road to check vehicles in Lodhi Road in Delhi. Four people were killed on the spot and two people died later in the hospital. The seventh victim somehow survived. During investigation, it was calculated by experts by checking the damage and injury that the car was driven approximately at a speed of 140 Km/hour .
Later, Sanjeev allegedly stopped the car after the accident and going ahead to some distance to check the damage and saw people under his car. One of his friends, according to the prosecution called him by his nickname, Sanz, and asked him to go. Sanjeev, upon reaching his father’s bungalow in Golf Links where I used to stay nearby in Pandara Park in 1999, asked his domestic helpers, watchman and driver to clean the car.
During preliminary investigations, the police found the car’s broken number plate after tracing the oil leak trail from the car. It was also found that the car was registered in the accused Sanjeev Nanda’s sister’s name Sonali Nanda. It was a one-month old BMW car with a foreign number plate and it was not registered in India. They also found another witness who was going to railway station at that time saying that the car was driven beyond the speed limit. His medical examination also proved that he had consumed alcohol.
The trial of this case initially proved to be weak. The victim who survived the accident retracted from his earlier statement and presented a new story that the vehicle causing the damage was a vegetable tempo. Many people, including the media also gave this case less attention than any other case just because it was an accident and not murder. However, this doesn’t seem to be a pretext for me to avoid it just because it was an accident. Sanjeev was old enough to understand that driving in an intoxicated situation will cause damage or even death. Atleast it should be noticed that he accidentally killed not one but six people unlike murder. Though it was medically proven that he had consumed alcohol, he just confessed that he had beer that night and finally went on saying that the car was registered on his sister’s Sonali Nanda’s name so he had nothing to do with the accident.
However, in 2008, he was convicted but only for 2 years when it went for a re-trial in a fast track court. His sentence was also reduced after charging Rs. 50 lakh fine on him which was not difficult to pay for this spoilt rich brat.
On the contrary, the society accepted him as he was. Rumors were there that he dated Bollywood actress Shamita Shetty.
What improvements can be suggested for this high profile case where judiciary failed to play role on its part?
Firstly, it should be noted that the party in Gurgaon should have been held after getting permission from local government authorities. The local government should have verified that is there any alcohol being served in the party and if it is then what precautions were taken for those who consumed it by putting barricade outside the location.
Secondly, if the vehicle was driven at high speed then any PCR van or constable should have sent a wireless message informing about the vehicle and the immediate next group of cops should have stopped the vehicle by placing spike strips and not barricade because car can be easily driven through the barricade forcibly. However, if spike strips are placed, a car cannot be driven as tyres will be deflated.
Thirdly, CCTV should be installed on the roads, though in 1999 there were little or almost none CCTVs on roads.