All electronic devices, including an alcometer, does not give 100 per cent accurate reading and error is bound to occur, a court at New Delhi has said while setting aside the jail term given to a man in a drunken driving case. “It is a matter of common knowledge that every electronic device, be it an alcometer or a glucometer, does not give 100 per cent accurate reading/result and margin of error varying from 10 to 20 per cent is bound to occur…” Additional Sessions Judge Lokesh Kumar Sharma said.
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The judge set aside a trial court order sentencing the man to jail for six days for driving an auto rickshaw in a drunken state, saying there was no proof that the device, used to measure alcohol content in his body, was ISI marked or was properly functioning when it was used in this case. “It raises a question mark on authenticity and genuineness of readings procured from the alcometer in the absence of production of any certificate of accuracy of reading carried out by it, particularly when its functionality was not at all established by the investigating agency,” the judge said.
The court said that the report filed by the police did not even carry the signature of the challaning officer and the person to whom it pertained, hence, the magistrate should not have convicted the accused.
“Once the genuineness and authenticity of this very document had fallen in grave suspicion and a question mark has been raised in respect thereof, then the Magistrate, in my considered opinion, was not justified to have relied upon such a false and fabricated document against the appellant (auto driver),” the judge said.
The court also took strong exception to the fact that the challaning officer had acted contrary to Delhi Police guidelines that when a person is caught in drunken driving, he is not allowed to go home on his own and it is the duty of the challaning officer to make arrangement for his safe return.
According to the prosecution, the accused, Ganga Singh, was caught driving his auto in a drunken condition by traffic cops in November 2015 at Outer Ring Road in Southeast Delhi.
He was checked by breath analyser (alcometer) and 199.2mg alcohol per 100 ml blood was found in his body, which was more than the permissible limit of 30 mg alcohol per 100 ml blood.
He was booked for the offence under section 185 (drunken driving) of Motor Vehicle Act and later sentenced to six days in jail by a magisterial court on May 17, 2016.
In his appeal, he had denied he was drunk and contended that the result of the breath test could have been manipulated at any level and planted against anybody as testing device had remained in custody of the police official throughout.