Alistair Anthony Pereira, a Mumbai based businessman while he was drunk, had run his speeding Toyota Corolla over a pavement in Mumbai on November 1, 2006 killing 7 labourers and injuring several others. He was 21 years old at the time of the accident. Pereira was initially sentenced to 6 months in jail by a lower court in Mumbai. Due to public uproar, Bombay High Court took cognizance of the matter suo-moto and sentenced him for three years for unintentional killing.
States to take measure to prevent accidents
The Bombay High Court found him guilty for running over 7 people while he was drunk in Mumbai.
The Bombay High Court was told on August 1, 2007 that the State will formulate a scheme to prevent the ever-increasing number of accidents involving drunk drivers.
Advocate Ravi Kadam told the division bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Ranjana Desai, hearing the suo-motu petition linked with Alistair Pereira episode, that number of accidents involving drunken drivers was on the rise and hence the State would formulate a scheme to reduce them.
He told the court that the only way to reduce them was to prevent such accidents, instead of stressing on investigation and prosecution. He informed the court that a senior police officer, having PhD in sociology, might be able to formulate some scheme to prevent such accidents while remaining within the ambit of present laws.
Without referring to many glaring loopholes that came to light during the proceedings, the court expressed its displeasure over affidavit filed by Mumbai Police Commissioner stating that the investigations into Alistair Pereira hit-and-run case was done properly.
Supreme Court’s verdict
The Supreme Court confirmed the three-year jail term awarded to Mumbai-based businessman Alistair Pereira for mowing down seven persons with his speeding car in 2006.
In a significant decision, a bench of Justices R M Lodha and J S Khehar also ruled that there was no “impediment” in law in charging an offender simultaneously with the offences of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and causing hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety of others.
In the verdict running in 69-pages, the bench expressed its concern over the rising number of deaths in road accidents caused by rash and drunk driving.
Even though it termed the three-year-jail term given to the 25-year-old businessman as “meagre and inadequate,” the bench refrained from enhancing the sentence after noting that the state government had not filed an appeal against the High Court’s verdict. The SC recommended that there be a change in the sentencing policy reflected in S. 304 –A (death due to negligence) as no amount of compensation would relieve the family of the victims from “mental agony.”
The trial court had awarded him six months jail term in a verdict which caused huge public outcry and uproar prompting the Bombay High Court to take suo motu cognizance of the matter and enhance the punishment to three-year imprisonment.
Two days after the Supreme Court verdict in the 2006 hit-and-run case, Alistair Periera, whose bail was cancelled, is yet to surrender before the authorities in Mumbai
On January 12, 2012 the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and three years jail term awarded to the Mumbai-based businessman for mowing down seven persons by his speeding car in an inebriated condition, adding that act was a “despicable aggravated offence.”
The apex court, which concurred with the Bombay high court’s verdict holding him guilty for the offence, had said the sentence could not be enhanced, as the Maharashtra government has not challenged it. It cancelled the bail of Pereira and directed him to “forthwith” surrender for undergoing the remaining sentence as awarded by the high court in 2007 for the incident of November 12, 2006 in Mumbai.
However, Pereira has not yet surrendered before the authorities. The Mumbai police said they can’t arrest him as they are yet to receive the copy of the apex court order. “We can only take action if an order copy is marked to the police,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Pratap Dighavkar said.
Pereira to be sent to Taloja Prison
Surendra Kumar,IG (prisons) said on January 14. 2012 that they may send Pereira to Taloja jail where 200 plus convicts are already serving their term. Taloja jail is about 50 km away from Mumbai. However, there are chances that he may be sent to the Nashik central jail from where he had filed the bail application a few years ago.
Taloja jail houses most of the dreaded criminals. Several hardened criminals were shifted from the Arthur Road jail to Taloja jail which is spread over 77 acres of land. “Earlier, we would send the convicts to Pune’s Yerawada jail. However, after the construction of Taloja jail, we send the convicts to Taloja jail. Pereira will have to work in the jail factory like other convicts.
Three years conviction for taking the life of 7 innocent labourer victims and injuring several people in drunken mood! Does this sentence commensurate with the crime committed? If victims are not poor roadside labourers, will the sentencing pattern change? It is time for debate and there is need to bring amendments. Whether the kith and kins of the victims paid adequate compensation?
Think it over. Voice your concern.
Dream Dare Win