Nooriya case not as serious as similar hit-run cases: HC

The Bombay High Court Friday observed that the drunk driving case in which US national Nooriya Haveliwala was sentenced to five years imprisonment is not as serious as similar cases such as the Alistair Pereira case of 2007 in which seven people were killed or the Sanjeev Nanda BMW hit-and-run case of 1999.

"I don't say it is not serious. But other publicised cases were more serious," Justice A M Thipsay said. The court said two people had lost their lives in this case biker Afzal Akbar and traffic policeman Dinanath Shinde while more people were killed in other cases.

"I thought there were six or seven deaths," Justice Thipsay said.

Haveliwala, a 30-year-old beautician, was convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced by a special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) court on November 1, 2012. She was, however, acquitted of drug consumption charges.

The state government recently moved an application seeking enhancement of Haveliwala's punishment to 10 years imprisonment for the January 31, 2010 accident that killed two and injured four.

Additional public prosecutor Usha Kejriwal, however, said the gravity of the offence is much greater than the number of deaths in the incident.

Arguing for Haveliwala, lawyer Abad Ponda said in other cases where the accused is handed out a five-year jail sentence, prosecution does not oppose bail applications. "Just because a policeman is hurt, they (state) should not take it personally," Ponda said.

Kejriwal said the prosecution may not oppose bail in five-year sentences but Haveliwala is a US national and if granted bail, she may abscond.

The state had also filed an appeal against her acquittal under the NDPS Act on the grounds that she was under the influence of drugs when the incident took place.

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