Police Commissioner Dhananjay Jadhav told HT on Saturday that “if the investigating officer in the Alistair Pereira case has erred in his job, he won’t be spared”.
Convicting the 21-year-old Pereira of rash driving — and not culpable homicide not amounting to murder, as the prosecution wanted — the Sewri Sessions Court had severely criticised the police for adopting a “casual approach to the investigation” and botching up the case.
The 21-year-old had allegedly run over seven sleeping pavement dwellers on Carter Road on November 12, 2006.
Jadhav spoke to HT about the case.
The police completely bungled the case. But the accused (Pereira) has been convicted.
Had the police done their homework, the conviction could have been consistent with the gravity of the crime. Isn’t it strange that charges like drunk driving, forgery of documents, etc, could not be proved because the police did not attach important documents to the case papers? How can you afford to make such mistakes?
It wouldn’t be fair on my part to comment without going through the case papers. I am waiting for the detailed (written) order before deciding upon action, if required.
Several important cases — such as the Ghatkopar blast case and the Gulshan Kumar murder — ended in acquittals. Have the police learnt nothing from the past?
Whenever a case ends in an acquittal, we scrutinise the judgment to find two things: whether it is fit for appeal in a higher court and whether there was some lacuna in the investigation. In case of a lacuna, immediate action is recommended against the investigating officers.
So which category does the Alistair Pereira case fall under?
I can comment only after going through the order. But I would like to make it clear that if it falls under the second category, the investigating officer will be taken to task. He won’t be spared if he has erred.
The public prosecutor’s approach was far from convincing. Even the judge wondered why she did not hire an interpreter for examining the nine witnesses (all injured labourers) who could only understand Tamil or Telugu.
We don’t appoint the prosecutor, so I will not comment.
What happened to the proposal of appointing law officers to guide the prosecution in collecting evidence?
It (appointment of law officers) was done in Pune hen I was police commissioner there. I don’t know when such officers will be appointed here. I will look into it.