After another day of fault finding in the police investigation in the Alistair Pereira case, the Bombay High Court on Monday reserved the order in appeals filed by Alistair Pereira against his conviction and on appeals filed by Maharashtra government seeking enhancement of Pereira punishment and also seeking his conviction under section 304 (II) of the Indian Penal Code for culpable homicide.
The HC has also directed the mobile van officers to remain present in the court on Tuesday when the court will take up the suo moto public interest litigation. The court had taken suo moto notice of the case following public outcry over the verdict.
Just before reserving the order, Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar remarked, "We find it very difficult to say anything. Police have been very unfair in this case."
The division bench of Chief Justice and Justice Ranjana Desai asked for the "rough sit map" prepared by the police immediately after the accident. After going through a sketch prepared in pencil, Chief Justice asked, "What kind of a site map is this?" When advocate general for the government Ravi Kadam explained that it was a rough sketch prepared by the police officer after reaching the site, Chief Justice asked, "Where did the police get the concept of rough sketch?"
As it was rough sketch, probably that's the reason it was not tendered in the trial court, said Kadam.
The court also questioned the investigating officer police inspector Somnath Phoolsunder and police sub-inspector Meenakshi Patil on whether there were skid marks and rim marks present at the site. Patil told the court through Kadam that there were skid marks caused due to brakes and rubber tyres, however, there were no rim marks on the road. Rim marks are the ones caused by inner wheel after the rubber tyre comes off.
"Police have been very unfair in this case. These two facts (site map and rim marks) cannot be reconciled to the case of prosecution," remarked Chief Justice.
Seeking lenient view towards Pereira, her lawyer Manjula Rao argued that great prejudice had been caused to him as he was not given sufficient time to argue his case. "On the day the chargesheet was filed, on December 12, 2006, the case was committed to sessions court for trial," she said. Normally, after the chargesheet is filed, notice is issued to the accused to whether the case should be committed to sessions court for trial.
Chief Justice asked Rao as to why they had not challenged this before the trial court itself. "If initially you were not given chance, you still had six months. Don't take advantage of your own wrong."
On November 12, 2006, Pereira's Toyota Corolla ran over contract labourers sleeping on the footpath at carter road, in Bandra killing seven and injuring eight. On April 13, the Sewree sessions court had acquitted him of the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 304(B) of the IPC, and held him guilty under section 304(A) (not amounting to culpable homicide) and section 337 (causing hurt).