A sessions court here on Thursday convicted Nooriya Yousuf Haveliwala, a non-resident Indian, in a drunken driving case and sentenced her to five-year rigorous imprisonment.
In 2010, Nooriya, driving under the influence of alcohol, killed a police sub-inspector, Dinanath Shinde, and a civilian, Afzal Ibrahim Maknejia, with her speeding car around 12.15 a.m. on Princess Street flyover in Mumbai. She also injured four more police personnel.
Convicting her of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 (II) of the Indian Penal Code, Additional Sessions Judge I.M. Bohari remarked in his order, “Such accidents take place frequently. Even if vehicle drivers want to have good fun while driving, they cannot be allowed to treat persons on the road carelessly… The accused cannot deny the knowledge that such driving could have caused culpable homicide that doesn’t amount to murder.”
In addition to the prison term, Nooriya was also fined Rs. 5 lakh.
Referring to the high-profile 1999 BMW hit-and-run case, in which businessman Sanjeev Nanda was convicted, and the Alistair Pereira case, the court pointed out that the apex court had ruled that such cases should fall under the offence of Section 304 (II).
The court further convicted and sentenced Nooriya to a total of five years of simple imprisonment on some other charges as well. She was sentenced for offences punishable under Sections 184 (driving dangerously) and 185 (driving by a drunken person under the influence of narcotics) of the Motor Vehicles Act; Sections 338, 337 (for causing grievous hurt) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs. 50) of the IPC; and Section 3 (1) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. For these offences, she was fined a total sum of Rs. 23,500.
The sentences will run concurrently, and the jail term will be offset by the time she has already spent in jail after the arrest.
The verdict came as a shock to Nooriya and her family members. When the court asked what she had to say on the verdict, a shaken Nooriya remained speechless for a while.
“My mother is 80 years old. My father passed away right after I came out [on bail]. I have my own initiative to help the accident victims. I would like to serve society to the best of my ability. I didn’t really want to do it,” she told the court, apologising for her act. Later, she broke down.
The prosecution had sought the maximum sentence, since a policeman had been killed in the incident.
“I submitted that the message has to go out to society that this isn’t the way to drive. You are spoiling people’s lives,” Public Prosecutor Kiran Raikar told The Hindu.
The defence, meanwhile, pleaded for some mercy. Defence lawyer Ashwin Thool told the court that Nooriya had suffered a “personal loss” in the death of her father. Moreover, there was no one to look after her aged mother. Pointing out her young age and penitent attitude, he requested that she be given a chance to reform herself.
“She offered to help the victims immediately. She has also registered a trust to create awareness on such cases. This conduct is a clear reflection of her remorseful state. She is 30 and has her life ahead of her. A harsh sentence would ruin her for life and affect her emotionally. She cannot compensate the victims, but she can make an attempt,” advocate Thool said.
Judge Bohari remarked, “A balance has to be maintained in awarding a sentence and taking care of the compensation of the victim.” The young age of the deceased persons, one of whom was discharging his public duty, also has to be kept in mind, he said.
The court ordered compensation to be paid to the victims of the incident, out of the fine amount of Rs. 5 lakh.
The family of Dinanath Shinde and Afzal are to be given Rs. 2 lakh each. Constable Shailesh Jhadhav (40), who was seriously injured, will get Rs. 50,000. Some other injured police personnel, Magan Gaikwad, Ashok Shinde, and Lala Shivram Shinde, are to be given Rs. 15,000 each.
The court relied upon the testimony of police inspector Vijayalaxmi Hiremath, who conducted the breath analyser examination. The result revealed a lot of alcohol content in Nooriya’s bloodstream, as much as 457 mg per 100 ml.
The court rejected the defence’s contention that at this level a person would become unconscious.