The Mumbai traffic police will have to justify the procedure it adopts to prosecute drunk drivers to the Bombay High Court.
“Inception of proceedings in prosecution of these cases appears to be bad in law,” said Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari while hearing the plea of a city resident, Nikhil Kishnani on Wednesday. The court also said the “sanctity of legal procedures cannot be compromised”.
Nikhil Kishnani (24) had moved court through his lawyer HK Prem seeking the quashing of his trial for drink driving.
Kishnani was caught for drink driving in Worli in December 2008. The breathalyser showed his blood alcohol level at 509 mg/100 ml — much beyond the prescribed limit of 30 mg/100 ml.
Kishnani was let off after he deposited Rs. 2,000 with the police. A two-page chargesheet, declaring he had been charged under section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, was filed after he refused to plead guilty.
Kishnani’s contention was that the procedure prescribed under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was not followed in his case though the violation of section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act is a cognisable offence and requires the invoking of the CrPC.
The CrPC contemplates registering a First Investigation Report in cognisable offences, followed by an investigation and then the chargesheet.
Senior lawyer Shirish Gupte argued on Kishnani’s behalf saying that in his case this process was not followed. “Failure to comply with mandatory provisions of CrPC has vitiated the entire trial,” Gupte said.
The judge gave Assistant Public Prosecutor Alpa Jhaveri two weeks to file an affidavit justifying the procedure adopted by the traffic police for prosecuting drunk drivers.
Criminal lawyer Ameen Solkar said the outcome of Kishnani’s case is likely to affect other such cases. “The law is meant not to just punish the guilty. There is an important element of reformation but the traffic cops are adopting such penalising tactics.” The court also sought details about the “morning courts” dealing with drink driving cases and Special Metropolitan Magistrates presiding over these courts.