Puneet Puneet, a now infamous fugitive drunk driver who killed Dean Hofstee and critically injured Clancy Coker in 2008 and ran away to India on a friend’s passport while on bail, has been at it again.
And for the nth time, successful too.
When many celebrated back in 2021 including Premier Daniel Andrews that Puneet Puneet had surrendered to Indian authorities and his extradition was nigh, Bharat Times had written that it could be a long way away, if at all, that we would see him on Australian soil.
And regrettably though, we were right. Puneet Puneet is no longer in custody in India and has managed to secure bail until his next hearing in Court on October 17.
And the multiplicity of cases he has involved himself in, there is no certainty, he will be back in custody any time soon. Extradition seems a lot more remote possibility.
Puneet Puneet’s lawyers have been building the case that his time in custody in India is more or less commensurate with the time he would have been ordered by Australian courts to spend in custody or behind bars.
BT suspects, as per his lawyers’ plan, he surrendered only to spend time in custody in India to meet that requirement and ultimately convince an Indian judge that he, after committing the crime, has done his time albeit not in Australia but in India.
As per the calculated timeline, he had been planning to secure bail, which now he has. The ground for his bail was to look after his parents, especially father who was going to undergo surgery and needed looking after post surgery.
The changing dates of surgery, the medical advice and health records – all played a part. The surgery, Bharat Times believes was only minor and his father was discharged from hospital the next day.
Granting the bail on 2 June, the court had observed:
“It is submitted that the petitioner‘s father is requiring surgery on 12.06.2022. The petitioner‘s mother is having a lung disease and there is no one to look after her as well. Petitioner‘s father and mother both are senior citizens.
The medical status report has been … taken on record which states that the surgery of the father of the petitioner is fixed for 12.06.2022.
For the reasons stated above and in view of the fact that the mother of the petitioner is ill and there is no other person to look after the petitioner’s father, it is directed that the petitioner be admitted to interim bail for a period of 30 days from the date of his release…”.
There were standard conditions placed on the bail granted to him including to surrender his passport and to report to local police regularly.
After the 30 day period was over, Puneet Puneet’s lawyer submitted to the court that the father had developed infection post surgery and required regular care and thus requested extension of bail.
Hearing the matter on July 8, the court extended his bail until his next date in court, October 17. The court in part said,
“It is submitted that the petitioner has been in custody for about 2 years 3 months in extradition matter. He was granted bail and he never misused the liberty granted by the Court and surrendered himself as per the order of learned ACMM dated 02.09.2021.
The petitioner belongs to lower middle class and has a family comprising of mother and father. The petitioner has already made a representation to the Union of India under Section 17 of Extradition Act, 1962 which is still pending consideration.”
The government of India opposed the application on the ground that Puneet Puneet could be a flight risk and was apprehended only after three years of search.
The government also submitted that Puneet Puneet fled from Australia on some other person’s passport.
But the court was uninclined to order Puneet Puneet to be taken into custody. The judge said:
“The petitioner was involved in an accident about 15 years ago. He has already been behind bars for a period of 2 years and 3 months and has already complied with the terms imposed by this Court on 02.06.2022. His passport already stands deposited in the Court.
“Subject to the petitioner complying with all the terms imposed in the order of 02.06.2022, it is directed that the interim bail granted to the petitioner shall continue…”.
Puneet Puneet will be back in court on October 17.