The court also criticised the government for dragging its feet in the matter, despite the Advocate General giving assurance of sterner action in drink-driving cases 10 years ago.
The division bench of Justices D D Sinha and V K Tahilramani were hearing a PIL by journalist Nikhil Waghle, which had originally sought to have the charge of Section 304A (death by negligence) changed to 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
At the hearing on October 7, 2002, the Advocate General had assured the court that sterner action would be taken in drink-driving cases. The government had also not interacted with members of bar associations to discuss cases of rash driving.
“Till date, neither the State Government nor the Union of India has filed their replies… What measures has the state adopted to tackle cases of drunken driving? Nothing has been placed before the court since the last date,” the court noted.
The court has also fixed a date of hearing for the dispute between the widow and son of Nurullah Mehboob Sharif, who died in the incident. The widow, Farida, who has since remarried, and son Feroz have been fighting over the Rs 10 lakh awarded to Sharif’s heirs.
On September 29, 2002, an inebriated Salman ran over five persons sleeping on a pavement in Bandra with a Toyota Land Cruiser. He was arrested and booked under Sections 304A, 337 and 338 of the IPC.
However, he was released on bail of Rs 950 immediately at the Bandra police station, as all the sections were bailable. Waghle’s PIL had sought the 304A (death by negligence) to be converted to 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
The section was applied under the directions of the Bombay High Court, but was set aside by the Supreme Court shortly after.