A Delhi court has upheld the jail term of a man, whose rash driving led to the death of a 50-year-old woman 19 years ago, saying the prolonged trial cannot outweigh the gravity of the offence.
Empathising with the pain and agony of the woman’s husband, the judge said he was left alone and the six month sentence imposed on convict Dharam Singh, now 40, did not call for interference.
“No doubt it has taken more than 16 years in concluding the trial, but that fact alone cannot outweigh the gravity of the offence where a 50-year-old lady lost her life.”
That single impact was so forceful that she was thrown up from the spot where she was waiting for a bus, into a nallah. The negligence is writ at large. Adequate punishment for that negligence is called for, District and Sessions Judge Asha Menon said.
“From this distance in time possibly the jail sentence of six months may seem harsh, but the time has allowed Dharam Singh to settle into a life with family and progress, but his act snuffed out a life and witness (husband of deceased) was left without his partner when he would have valued her company the most,” the sessions judge said.
The court also relied on the post mortem report, which showed that victim Prabhavati Devi suffered grave head injuries, and the site plan submitted by the prosecution.
“One important fact is that Prabhavati Devi was hit with such force that she was flung into the nullah…. It is also not disputed that the tempo had crossed to the other side of the road and had turned turtle and the driver had also been injured,” the judge said.
The court, while refusing to take a lenient view towards Singh, said, “It is significant that the woman’s husband deposed that he was returning with his wife after attending a ‘satsang’ (religious gathering). In these circumstances, the sentence imposed by the trial court cannot be considered to be harsh to the gravity of the offence.”
Singh was sentenced to six months jail by a magisterial court in July 2015 after being held guilty of offences under sections 279 (rash driving) and 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC.
According to the prosecution, the accident took place on July 9, 1998 in Mehrauli when Singh was driving a tempo in a rash and negligent manner and hit the victim, leading to her death.
In his appeal against the sentence, Singh had contended that there was no evidence to prove that he was driving the vehicle rashly and claimed that it was the sudden failure of brakes which caused the accident.
He had also sought to be let off on probation, submitting that the sentence imposed was very harsh as he had faced trial for 19 years and was not involved in any other accident.
Opposing his appeal, prosecutor Salim Khan had argued that a light sentence had already been imposed though a life had been lost.
The court dismissed the appeal while also noting that the convict had fled from the spot and “interestingly was driving the tempo” when he had a motorcycle and motor car licence only.