Kolkata: Actor Vikram Chatterjee’s lawyer today filed an application for anticipatory bail in the Kolkata High Court for the actor in model Sonika Chauhan’s death case, news agency ANI reported.
Chatterjee took the step a week after he was charged with culpable homicide in connection with Sonika’s death.
Sonika was killed in a fatal car crash on April 29. Vikram, who was driving the vehicle, survived the accident, and questions have been raised ever since about whether he was inebriated.
In the hours after the accident, Chatterjee was only booked under Indian Penal Code 304 A (causing death by rash or negligent act), a bailable offense that carries a maximum jail time of two years. Chatterjee was later granted bail.
However, last week, amid mounting public pressure, Chatterjee was charged with Section 304 (culpable homicide), a non-bailable offense.
Sonika Chauhan and Vikram Chatterjee were returning home on April 29th morning after a night out in Kolkata. At around 4 am, Vikram lost control of the car and crashed it into a footpath stall near Lake Mall on Rashbehari Avenue in south Kolkata.
Sonika and Vikram were rescued by bystanders who rushed them to a nearby hostpial. However, the 28-year-old Sonika was declared dead on arrival while Vikram was released after first aid. However, Chatterjee was once again admitted into a hospital later in the day after he complained of illness.
Vikram was charged with causing death by rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, a crime that carries a maximum punishment of two years. Around a week after the accident, Vikram surrendered to the police and was granted bail.
As rumours began to float around that Vikram was drunk on the night of the accident, the Bengali actor held a press conferrence soon after getting bail and denied allegations that he had consumed alcohol. However, video surfaced showing Vikram with a glass of alcohol in hand at one of the nightclubs he visited with Sonika on the night of April 28.
Several friends who were with Vikram and Sonika through the night came forward to say that they had seen Chatterjee consume alcohol on the night. This forced Vikram to ultimately take his statement back. On May 10, Vikram publicly admitted that he had indeed consumed alcohol on the night in question but said that he wasn’t “drunk”.
Even as a social media storm erupted over the matter, with Bengali film industry insiders either slamming Vikram online or vocing concern over the actor being unfairly tried in social media, Sonika’s family slammed Kolkata Police for its slow pace of probe. The family claimed that the police was slow to collect crucial evidence, such as footage from CCTV cameras at the site of the accident. Sonika’s kin also claimed that Kolkata Police recorded witness statements only eight days after the accident.
On May 30, Kolkata Police moved to amend its initial complaint against Vikram, petitioning the Alipore court to add the non-bailable IPC section 304. The court granted the request, with sources telling India Today then Vikram’s car was going at a speed of 115 kmph at the time of the accident.
On June 5, Chatterjee moved the Kolkata High Court, seeking anticipatory bail in the Chauhan death case.