It was a mixed day at court for Alistair Pereira – accused of running his Toyota Corolla over and killing seven construction workers in Bandra in November last year.
Judge Ajit Mishra at the Sewri sessions court on Monday fined Pereira Rs 5,000 for not having a lawyer present, and said the judgement in the case would be given by the end of the week.
But – in what lawyers are seeing as a development that could lead to Pereira’s acquittal – Judge Mishra barred the public prosecutor from questioning Panchanath Parimalay (55), the prime eyewitnesses and complainant in the case, after the prosecutor asked “leading” questions to Parimalay. The prosecutor had asked Parimalay who the person behind the wheels in the car was.
So, in effect, the prosecution concluded the examination of the key eyewitness and the complainant without him having identified the accused.
During his deposition, which lasted for 15 minutes, Parimalay, who was brought by the police from Andhra Pradesh, told the court that he was a contractor and had hired some labourers from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for road-leveling at Carter Road in Bandra. On the night of November 11, he went to sleep in a temporary shanty located near the Railway quarters on Carter road, while a few of his labourers slept on the footpath, he said.
Around 3.30 am, when he woke up to answer nature’s call, he saw the labourers sleeping on the footpath. On the way back to the shanty, he heard a loud sound and saw smoke coming out of a car. He found six people lying dead under the car and noted the number on its number plate, Parimalay told the court.
Later, when the court directed the defense lawyer to cross examine Parimalay, there was no lawyer representing Pereira.
Judge Mishra then leveled a fine of Rs 5,000 on Pereira and observed that the accused should bear the expenses of the nine witnesses (money for purchasing train tickets from Mumbai to their native places and back and Rs 100 as food compensation). The court also directed Pereira to keep his lawyer present on Tuesday before the court or face similar action.
Judge Mishra told the open court that he would like to complete the deposition of all the witnesses at the earliest and give a judgment by the end of this week.