On the evening of December 8, a customised Aston Martin worth Rs.4.5 crore registered to the Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Ports under number MH 01 BK 99, was cruising down Pedder Road in Mumbai’s posh South Bombay suburb, when the driver lost control.
The car was going at such high speed that it banged into an Audi being driven by a Ghatkopar resident – a 25-year-old MBA student called Foram Ruparel – causing the car to jump the divider and hit an oncoming bus. The Aston Martin in the meanwhile also hit a Hyundai Elantra, owned by Vikram Mishra, a resident of Thane who works at a pharmaceutical firm. One of the passengers in his car was a pregnant woman, who sustained injuries. Though the driver tried to flee, the car stalled. A Reliance spokesperson told Mail Today that the injuries sustained were minor and that the driver was not fleeing the scene but that the impact of speeding was so intense that the car was thrust ahead.
By the time the chaos ended, the two security details following the Aston Martin – two Honda CRVs – had whisked the driver away, leaving the car there.
The police took 12 hours to record the statements of the eyewitnesses and at 5.30 am an FIR was filed. Police also stated that CCTV footage at the Cadbury junction was inconclusive as it did not show the faces of the drivers. A Reliance spokesperson informed the police that it was a driver who was in the car.
The next day a Reliance driver Bansilal Joshi, 55, and weighing 100 kgs, who had worked with the company for around 30 years, turned up at the Gamdevi police station to confess that he had taken the car for a test drive on Sunday morning, and had crashed it. While the police recorded his statement, a number of factors raised suspicions:
First, why were two security details following a car driven by a chauffeur and not a family member.
Second, no chauffeur would drive a Rs.4 crore Aston Martin at over 100 km per hour when followed by a security detail.
Third, why was the driver whisked away from the scene of the crime without the matter having been reported or statements being recorded.
Fourth, the driver of the Audi, 25-year-old Ruparel recorded a statement saying the man at the wheel of the Audi, whom she saw weaving through traffic at high speed before he hit her via her rear view mirror, was a young man.
However, this final detail was omitted from the first FIR registered by assistant inspector Pawar. The police also did not arrest Joshi on receiving his statement as they were verifying it against his call records and CCTV footage that would place him at various spots during his supposed test drive. The police has also been collecting fingerprints and forensic evidence from the crashed vehicle. Reliance states that it is cooperating fully with the police and has no specific comment to make.
DCP Nisar Tamboli, of Zone 2, who is in charge of the case was contacted for further details but stated that as the case was still under investigation he could not divulge any further details. He did however state that no arrests are impending and that none would be made until evidence was found to be conclusive, which it is currently not, against any of the parties involved in the case.