The nervous wait to know her fate and alien courtroom procedures showed on India born-US national Nooriya Haveliwala’s face as she stepped into the dock around 1pm on Thursday.
Barely two hours earlier, the court had found the 30-year-old beautician guilty of mowing down two persons and injuring four at Marine Drive in south Mumbai while driving her vehicle under the influence of alcohol on January 29, 2010.
Before passing the sentence, judge IM Bohri told her the prosecution had sought maximum punishment of 10 years’ imprisonment and asked, “What do you have to say about it?”
Haveliwala looked at her advocate Ashwin Thool, baffled. After a brief explanation, she said, “I have an old mother to look after. And I did not mean to do any harm.”
During the trial, Thool had argued that his client be given a chance to reform. He told the court Haveliwala had shown signs of remorse and registered a non-governmental organisation to create awareness about the ill-effects of drunken driving.
Thool also said Haveliwala’s father had passed away soon after the accident and she was the only person to support her 80-year-old mother.
“Considering the behaviour of the accused during the trial, her young age, old mother, I am of the view that a balance has to be maintained between the accused and the woes of victims,” judge Bohri observed and sentenced her to five years’ rigorous imprisonment and slapped a fine of R5 lakh. The fine will be distributed as compensation to families of the deceased, and the injured.
Haveliwala, who had come to court with her mother and a friend, broke down and wept. Minutes later, she was taken into custody and temporarily lodged in Byculla women’s prison. She will be shifted to either Yerwada central jail in Pune or Nashik central jail after the copy of the judgment is given to her.
Haveliwala’s legal advisors did not immediately say if she would challenge the ruling in Bombay high court.