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A Delhi court Saturday sentenced Utsav Bhasin, son of a Haryana-based industrialist, to two years in jail for mowing down a motorcyclist with his speeding BMW in 2008. Pronouncing the quantum of sentence, Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Kumar said “cow killers get more stringent punishment than errant drivers”. “Sentence for killing a cow is five or seven, or 14 years, in different states. But in case of death of a person caused by rash or negligent driving, sentence prescribed in law is only two years,” the judge said.
The court also granted statutory bail to Bhasin so that he could file an appeal in the High Court, and asked him to furnish a bail bond of Rs 50,000 with a surety of like amount. The court also directed him to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim’s family, and Rs 2 lakh to the other injured man, a journalist, who was riding pillion on the two-wheeler. It also called “unfortunate” the fact that even in the capital, there are no exclusive non-motorised vehicle lanes on most roads.
Referring to statistics of road accidents, the judge said, “I am compelled to observe that India has a disreputable record of road accidents.” He also noted that according to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2015, 4.64 lakh cases of road accidents were reported in which 1.48 lakh people were killed and 4.82 lakh injured. “Every minute, an accident takes place. Every four minutes, a person dies in an accident. Human life is precious. Road users have a fundamental right to life and liberty, including the right to safety under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is the duty of the state to ensure safety of people on roads… it cannot shy away from its duty in any circumstance,” the judge said.
He also referred to a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, in which he had spoken about being shocked by a road accident in Delhi where the victim lay in a pool of blood for 10 minutes while nobody came to his aid. The judge said a copy of the judgment should be sent to the Prime Minister to look into the aspect of inadequate punishment for the offence of causing death by negligence (Section 304 A IPC).