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Alistair Pereira was drunk beyond limit, HC told

July 03, 2007 22:55 IST

The Maharasthra government, which has moved the Bombay high court against the acquittal of city youth Alistair Pereira in a hit-and-run case, on Tuesday contended the sessions judge was wrong in holding that there was no evidence to prove his "drunkenness".

Pereira, whose car mowed down 15 labourers sleeping on the pavement in suburban Bandra, killing seven of them late last year, was acquitted under Section 304 (II) - committing homicide with knowledge that the act would result in death.

He was given six months' jail term under Section 304 (a) (causing death by negligence).

No knowledge that his act would cause death could be attributed to him, sessions Judge Ajit Mishra had held while delivering the judgment in the case a few months ago.

Advocate General Ravi Kadam said, "Chemical analysis of his blood sample, which was not challenged by the defence, showed that alcohol quantity in Alistair's blood was twice the permitted limit."

Mishra had held that Alistair had consumed alcohol, but was not proved to have been "under the influence of liquor".

The prosecution contested this finding while arguing the appeal before a division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar.

Kadam said that in view of the chemical analysis report, Mishra's contention was contradictory. Kadam challenged Mishra's decision to discard doctor Barve's medical report. Barve was the first one to examine Pereira after his arrest and had mentioned in the report -- in the form of the hospital's register entry -- that he was drunk.

But his report was not accepted, as the certified copy of register's extract was signed by Dr Ruia, another doctor.

During the cross examination, Ruia had said he was not the one who examined Pereira, that he had only certified that the copy of register's extract was original.

So Mishra refused to accept it as evidence. Kadam said the sessions judge did not realise that it was Dr Barve who examined Pereira, and Ruia's signature was there only for proving authenticy of the photocopy.

Kadam also argued that acquitting Pereira under Section 338 (causing grievous hurt) too was not justified, as had the judge taken into consideration Dr Barve's report, the charge would have been upheld.

Under 304 (II), Pereira could have got 10 years' of rigorous imprisonment, while under 304 (a), the maximum punishment is just two years.

The high court is hearing three petitions simultaneously: the government's appeal for an enhanced sentence, prosecution plea against his acquittal under 304 (II) and 338, and the third is Pereira's own appeal against the six-month jail term.

The hearing will continue on Wednesday.

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