Days after senior BJP leader and Union minister Gopinath Munde died following a car crash in the national capital, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has fast-tracked the process of bringing in stricter laws to book offenders involved in road accidents.
The first step in this direction will be to amend Section 304 A (causing death due to negligence) of the Indian Penal Code. An overhaul of other IPC sections related to drink driving, grievous hurt are also on the cards, said a senior official.
Section 304 A IPC attracts punishment for two years for the accused only on conviction and it is a bailable offence. The ministry is planning to make it a non-bailable or a cognizable offence and also wants minimum sentence attached to it.
“When somebody dies in a road accident the law enforcement agency registers a case under this section, which is a bailable one. We want to make it more stringent and want it to be made into a cognizable offence so that bail can be granted only by court. Presently, there is no provision for minimum sentence, we want it to be changed to at least three-six months,” said a senior official.
To begin with the Home Ministry is preparing a draft that will be circulated to states for their opinion. Once the states have given their opinion, it will go to the Ministry of Law, which can suggest changes to the provisions. After this, the government plans to introduce it in Parliament.
In 2010, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had also introduced a Private Member’s Bill to amend Section 304 A. The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2010 (Amendment of Section 304 A, etc) sought the introduction of Section 304 C which would treat the case of a death caused due to rash or negligent act as equivalent to murder and said the penalty of such crimes would be either death or imprisonment for life.
Sources said though the amendment has been in the pipeline, the procedure to amend these sections gathered pace after Munde’s death. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asked officials to take up the matter on a war-footing.
According to the latest data by the National Crime Records Bureau, around 4.4 lakh accidents took place in the country in 2012 in which 1.4 lakh people were killed. This means every 3.7 minutes, a person is killed in road accidents in India. While trucks accounted for around 26,000 deaths, those killed in car accidents numbered 14,100. (ENS)