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Bombay HC declines relief to woman accused of mowing down two, says no prudent person drives drunk

A single bench of Justice Urmila Joshi Phalke said nobody can be permitted to drive a vehicle after consuming alcohol, which it termed a serious misconduct.
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 12:38 IST

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Mumbai: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused pre-arrest bail to a woman accused of driving her Mercedes car after getting drunk and causing two deaths, saying no prudent person drives under the influence of alcohol.

A single bench of Justice Urmila Joshi Phalke said nobody can be permitted to drive a vehicle after consuming alcohol, which it termed a serious misconduct.

The court rejected Ritu Maloo’s plea seeking anticipatory bail. Maloo is accused of driving her Mercedes car in an inebriated state and ramming it into a bike on Nagpur's Ram Jhula bridge in February, killing the two persons on the two-wheeler.

The bench noted that when a motor vehicle is driven after consuming alcohol, road accidents become a predictable consequence.

“In such a scenario, attributing knowledge to the driver of the vehicle that death can be a likely consequence of drunken driving is legally tenable,” HC said.

“A prudent person will not drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol,” the court said.

The bench said the woman is “highly educated” and belongs to a "highly respectable family”. It also noted that she had fled from the accident spot and later tried to claim before the police that she was not the one at the wheel.

Initially, Maloo was booked under the offence of causing death by negligence, rash and negligent driving and causing hurt to a person by a rash act.

Following the death of the two motorists, the police invoked section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

The woman was initially granted bail. The police, however, later sought to arrest her again prompting Maloo to move HC for pre-arrest bail.

Maloo had contended that she had consumed alcohol within the permissible limits and it was a mere accident. She claimed that no custodial interrogation was required in the case.

“The applicant has driven the car in a drunken condition and hit the Activa bike. In the accident, two persons have lost their lives. Without showing any remorse to them, the applicant left the place,” the court said.

“Nobody can be permitted to drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol,” the court said, stressing that driving a vehicle after getting drunk and “playing with the lives of others is a very serious misconduct”.

The court said that the manner in which the accident occurred was sufficient to attract IPC section 304.

It added that knowledge of the consequences of one's action can be attributed to a person who drives a car in a rash and negligent manner after alcohol consumption.

The court said Maloo was not entitled to any relief and rejected her pre-arrest bail plea.

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Published 26 June 2024, 12:38 IST

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