Days after actor Salman Khan was acquitted in the 2002 hit-and-run case, the Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharshtra government whether it planned to take action against erring police officers for dereliction of duty. And if it does, what would be the nature of action.
It had to be borne in mind, according to Justices A S Oka and G S Patel, that Khan had got the reprieve with some important observations made by Justice A R Joshi who decided on the actor’s case.
Justice Joshi had based his decision on various “loopholes” he found in the police’s investigation besides the delay in collection of blood samples from the spot.
There were two points raised by the judges after going through the 305 pages of Justice Joshi’s judgment. Firstly, they wanted to know if there were specific guidelines followed by the investigating agencies while collecting blood samples and other evidence from crime scene.
“Is there any set protocol on immediate collection of blood samples,” Justices Oka enquired with government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani.
Justice Patel pointed out another aspect with impoundment of license. He asked Vagyani to find out the procedure followed by the government while dealing with licenses of those drivers who are caught for drunk driving.
“All we are doing is to differentiate between case where the accident is, perhaps, due to a stray animal and those who are drunk behind the wheel. Unless you (state) establish that the person was behind the wheel, permissible limit (of alcoholic) is a completely different matter,” said Justice Patel referring to the actor’s case.
The questions were raised during the hearing of a public interest litigation filed in 2002 by journalist Nikhil Wagle. He had sought imposition of harsher legal provisions against Khan. While one person died, four were injured in the accident.