A software engineer and his associate, who were accused by the Bengaluru traffic police of allegedly hitting a policeman and booked for drunken driving in the city in April 2017, were let off by the Karnataka high court as the police failed to follow the prescribed norms for registering drunken driving cases and collecting fines. The court order came on September 6.
Techie Priyamshu Kumar and Alok Kumar, both residents of Bihar, were booked for preventing a public servant from discharging his duty and a case was registered by the Mahadevapura police in the Whitefield region of Bengaluru.
On the night of April 9, 2017, Alok Kumar, who was on a motorcycle, was stopped by the police for a breath analyser test. According to the police, the youth did not cooperate and did not want to go to the police station but instead called his friend Priyamshu Kumar, a software engineer, who allegedly slapped a policeman.
The police registered a case under Section 353 of the Indian Penal Code against the youth for obstructing a public servant from discharging his duty.
The duo was let off after the court found that the police had collected a traffic fine for drunken driving on the spot and had not recorded the whole incident on video, which is in contravention of a 2015 circular of the police department.
The high court noted that as per a state circular dated September 25, 2015, which lays down the procedure for the police to deal with drunken driving cases in Bengaluru, only the courts are “authorized to decide the fine amount and under no circumstances fine amount can be collected by the traffic police”.
The court also noted, “Further, checking activity has not been videographed. It is also relevant to see that if a person tries to physically assault the police, he should be restrained and the jurisdictional police should be called to the spot to take custody of the said person.”
“In the present case, none of the procedures were followed while apprehending the accused. Moreover, as already noted, there are no independent witnesses, whose statements are recorded, though it is specifically stated in the complaint that the public helped the police in apprehending the accused,” the high court said.
“…though the prosecution has tried to demonstrate that the petitioners have tried to prevent the first informant (police officer) from discharging his duty and used criminal force etc, but for the reasons mentioned above, I have no hesitation to hold that the ingredients of the offense alleged are not made out,” Justice Mohammed Nawaz ruled.
As per a government circular of 2015 on dealing with drunken driving cases, the police should “politely inform” the detainee about “the offense he has committed by showing him the Alcometer reading”. “The person is also informed about procedures followed and that the Hon’ble Court is the authority that decides the fine amount,” says the circular.
The circular also says, “If any person tries to misbehave or abuses the police, the officer should not lose his cool and indulge in arguments with the person.”
“It is to be understood that a person under the influence of alcohol will not be in his senses and he will be irritable, argumentative, and abusive. However, in case the person tries to physically assault the police, he should be restrained and the jurisdictional police should be called to the spot to take custody of the person and take further legal action in the matter,” says the state circular on dealing with drunk drivers.