Puneet Puneet in India

New Delhi, 5 November: An Indian international student in 2008 and involved in a fatal hit-run accident, Puneet Puneet has been found fit to stand trial for extradition to Australia by a court in New Delhi, India.

Ever since the case has come to the court of Justice Gurmohina Kaur, Puneet Puneet gradually has been running out of luck (read excuses). At the previous hearing, Justice Kaur had ruled that a medical and psychological health check will be undertaken to assess if Puneet Puneet is psychologically fit to stand trial. Justice Kaur took this course after Puneet Puneet claimed that he was not fit to stand trial and thus the extradition proceedings should be dismissed on health grounds.

Kanhaiya Kumar Singhal Puneet Puneet’s lawyer, on various occasions had claimed in court that Puneet is schizophrenic, suicidal, mentally disturbed and has serious kidney problems and other ailments, forcing Justice Kaur’s hand to order the examination by a panel of doctors at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Applied Sciences in New Delhi.

They have, after examining him, concluded that he is mentally sound.

In a typical Indian style, the medical examination report went to the judge who had read it before it reached the defence team of Puneet Puneet, claimed Puneet Puneet’s lawyer.

When the case came up in court, having read the report, Justice Gurmohina Kaur said on Monday at Patiala House Court: “The doctors say he is able to take care of himself and that there is no reason why he is not fit to stand trial as he has no mental disability.”

This ruling marks a significant milestone in this long drawn out process which has already spread over ten years.

Puneet had used his friend’s passport to flee to India to avoid facing a culpable driving trial in Australia for the 2008 death of Queensland student Dean Hofstee in Melbourne.

Puneet Puneet was involved in a high speed car accident under the influence of alcohol when he killed Hofstee and also seriously injured Clancy Coker by running them over.

Puneet was on bail and awaiting sentence when he fled Australia in 2009 using his friend’s passport. He was arrested five years later in India, on his wedding day after police offered reward for a tip on his whereabouts.

And he has been fighting against extradition since.

His lawyer, Singhal asked for a copy of the report for his perusal. At this stage it is not known if he will appeal against the court’s ruling to let Puneet face an extradition trial.

If he is planning an appeal, he will have to file it well before November 28, which is the date set for final arguments by Justice Kaur.

If an appeal is filed, Puneet Puneet will seek adjournment on November 28 in Justice Kaur’s court.

Shalini Singh

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