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More HC heat on police in Alistair Pereira case

Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar comes down heavily on police for various lacuna in the investigation in the accident case involving 22-year-old Alistair Pereira, reports Urvi Mahajani.
Hindustan Times | By Urvi Mahajani, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2007 07:35 PM IST

"Is there something basically wrong? Large number of cases are failing. Let's not blame the prosecution or the police. It just shows the extent of manipulation possible," remarked Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar on Thursday while still coming down heavily on police for various lacuna in the investigation in the accident case involving 22-year-old Alistair Pereira.

For the second day in succession, the division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Ranjana Desai questioned the vehicle inspector with the RTO Rajendra Sawant who had examined the Toyota Corolla driven by Pereira that run over labourers sleeping on he footpath, killing seven persons and injuring eight others, last November. Sawant is a mechanical engineering.

After the accident, the police had recovered the car with its right front wheel dislodged and the left front wheel deflated. Due to the impact, the entire assembly of wheel and the sock absorbers in the car too had come out along with the wheel. Apart from that there was no other external damage to the car. Six persons, including Pereira, too had escaped unhurt.

How can the shock absorber of the car come off without causing external damage to the car, questioned CJ. "The shock absorber is attached to a hub with a grip on top and bottom of the car. It is not possible that the shock absorber can come out without breaking open the top of the car and that too only after the car is overturned," CJ told Sawant.

"The shock absorber could have come off from the bottom of the car," said Sawant explaining that it was possible due to the impact of the accident.

Passing the photographs of car at the accident spot, CJ asked Sawant whether he saw a single other dent on the car from where the shock absorber could have come off. The photographs were taken by a police photographer immediately after the accident. "Underneath you have taken out the coil and the absorber. There is no way the shock absorber could have come off without breaking upper or lower side of the car," claimed CJ when Sawant failed to answer as to how the shock absorber came off.

Te bench also wondered as to why all the persons in the car did not bear a single injury mark due to the accident. "Even the whisky bottle in the car is in one piece," pointed out CJ while looking at the photographs.

Once again the CJ asked as to why the police had failed to prepare the site map of the accident spot. "Delhi police has a manual of practise rules as to what is to be done at the accident spot," remarked CJ.

The judges also questioned Sawant about the probable speed at which the car was being driven that caused such an accident.

While trying to understand the lacunae in the investigation the court observed, "If the mistake was bonafide then it reflects apathy on the part of police, but if it was done with the purpose to benefit the accused then it is worse."

The court has asked advocate general Ravi Kadam to reply to several loopholes that have remained during the investigation of the case.

Meanwhile, Pereira’s lawyer Manjula Rao argued that they were not provided sufficient time to prepare to cross examine the witnesses as the trial judge had refused to adjourn the matter and adjourned only once after imposing a cost of Rs 5,000. She stated that they were not given a copy of a copy of the chemical analysis report which stated the alcohol content. Rao further alleged that some pages of the chargesheet were missing, about which they only learnt later.

Rao will continue to argue her appeal on July 16.

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