Police tell court 23-year-old might influence his friends who are witness to the Sunday morning accident; say he was partying all night and could be intoxicated at the time
Sumer Vijay Merchant (in black T-shirt) at Bhoiwada court on Monday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Cops said they suspect that the 23-year-old south Mumbai resident was intoxicated when he hit a jogger in Worli, leading to her death on Sunday. They are awaiting his medical report to ascertain whether it was alcohol or some other substance, said cops.
The Worli police produced Sumer Vijay Merchant in Bhoiwada court on Monday to seek custody stating that if released, he would influence the witnesses—his friends. The court remanded him in police custody until March 22.
Advocate Santosh Ghadhave, the public prosecutor, said, “The accused and his friends in the car accepted being intoxicated, hence custodial interrogation of the accused is crucial as he could influence the witnesses [friends].”
Advocate Anajali Patil, Merchant’s lawyer, said, “The incident is unfortunate. However, the spot where the accident happened is a sharp turn and a similar accident had happened a month ago. The deceased was running on the road when she was hit. The accused had no intention of killing anyone”.
Appearing for Vijay Ramkrishnan, the husband of deceased Rajlaxmi, advocates Harshad Ingle and Samrat Ingle said, “The accident was so severe that she was flung in the air and died on the spot. If the accused gets bail, it will set a wrong precedent and he might even influence his friends.”
The electric vehicle is registered in the name of Merchant’s mother, police said. His father runs a gent’s wear and tailoring shop in south Mumbai. He works at an event management company, which is associated with Bollywood, cops added.
“Last week, his parents had gone on a vacation. He hosted a party at his house on Saturday,” a cop said. “Around 5.45 am, Merchant and a few others left to drop his friend at Shivaji Park. They were about to take the Bandra-Worli Sea Link when he crashed into Rajlaxmi,” the cop added.