Get sufficent breathalysers to detect drunk drivers: Bombay HC

Mumbai, Feb 26: The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to procure the required number of breathalysers used for checking alcohol consumption by vehicle drivers within four months and release money for it within a month. Hearing a PIL filed by senior journalist Nikhil Wagle seeking adequate compensation for the victims of the 2002 accident case in which he was acquitted last year, a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice C.V. Bhadang said it was obligatory for the state government to have sufficient number of breathalysers. Government pleader A. Vagyani informed the court that against 1,174 breath analysers required across the state, there are only 507 available of which 196 are non-functional. Mumbai police has just 119 such devices against a requirement of 327 to check drunken drivers, he added. At a previous hearing, the court had said that the total number of drunken driving cases in Mumbai increased from 16,525 in 2013 to 17,849 in 2015. However, the number of licences suspended as per court orders came down from 3,422 to 1826 during the same period. Ordering the purchases of the breathalysers, the court posted the matter for further hearing on March 3. Last year, actor Salman Khan who was sentenced to a five-year jail term by a sessions court, was acquitted of all charges by the high court in the 2002 accident in Bandra in which one pavement dweller was killed and four others injured. While the actor had already deposited the compensation amounts for the victims as per high court directives, Wagle's PIL continued as the court expanded its scope over the issue of enhancing punishment in accident cases and other related aspects.