Voicing serious concern over rise in number of drunk driving cases in the country, the Bombay High Court urged the Centre and the Maharashtra government to adopt “zero tolerance policy”, and wondered if anybody who has had even little alcohol should be allowed to drive.
“There is no reason why any person who has had any amount (of liquor) to drink should be permitted to drive at all,” said a bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Gautam Patel while hearing a petition seeking more compensation from actor Salman Khan for the victims in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
“Given the alternatives available and having regard to mainfest risks, especially to third parties, we would strenously urge adoption by the central and Maharashtra governments of a zero tolerance policy towards drunk driving,” the bench said.
The judges were hearing a public interest litigation filed by journalist Nikhil Wagle seeking stricter laws and more compensation from Khan. The actor was acquitted by the Bombay High Court in the case last month.
Khan has already deposited Rs. 19 lakh as a compensation to the victims’ kin as directed by the high court nearly a decade ago, but Wagle’s petition is still being heard after the court expanded its scope to include the issue of enhancement of punishment in such cases.
“We see no reason why police should be burdened with having to prove whether or not a person has consumed alcohol (beyond permissible limit)….Mere presence of alcohol in blood should be, in our view, sufficient to disentitle from driving.
“This would go a long way in ensuring safety on our roads apart from lessening the forensic burden on enforcement agencies,” said the judges.
The court observed that section 185 of Motor Vehicles Act which deals with drunk driving does not contain any provision whereby a state government can frame rules to provide for a stricter action. The Centre may consider allowing the states to prescribe zero tolerance norm or amend the MV Act, it said.