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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Killer drivers: Supreme Court wants harsher punishment

In State of Punjab Vs Saurabh Bakshi, 2015, the apex court had expressed regret over India’s disreputable record in road accidents and the nonchalant attitude of drivers who took the wheel even while drunk.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
Updated: August 27, 2016 3:04:27 am
supreme court, SC, Supreme court on rash driving, Supreme court on road accidents, ts thakur, justice ts thakur, Harsh Punishment for rash driving, Punishment for driving, delhi accident, india news, delhi hit and run, india news Currently, Section 304-A entails a maximum punishment of two years in jail, with or without fine.

The Supreme Court Friday favoured an amendment in Section 304-A of the IPC to enhance the punishment for causing death due to rash and negligent driving, and called for the government’s response in the matter.

Currently, Section 304-A entails a maximum punishment of two years in jail, with or without fine.

This, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan said, was “absolutely inadequate” and called upon the Attorney General of India to communicate the views of the government on making the penal provision stricter. “It is a matter of concern that only two years in jail is the maximum term for killing a person by reckless driving…it must be more,” the bench observed.

Dismissing a plea of a convict to reduce his jail term from two years under Section 304 A, the court recalled one of its judgments on the issue in 2015, holding that “the lawmakers should scrutinise, relook and revisit the sentencing policy in Section 304-A, IPC”. Citing this judgment, the bench said the court had suggested a higher punishment to the offenders for causing death due to rash and negligent driving. “The aforesaid passage clearly indicates that punishment provided under Section 304-A is absolutely inadequate,” it said.

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The bench clarified that it was “absolutely conscious” of the fact that legislation was within the domain of Parliament. “However, we would like to hear the learned Attorney General for India on this score,” it said, and fixed the matter for August 30 to hear AG Mukul Rohatgi on the subject.

Maninder Singh, Additional Solicitor General, who was present in the court, assured the bench that the AG would show up to assist the court on the next date.

In State of Punjab Vs Saurabh Bakshi, 2015, the apex court had expressed regret over India’s disreputable record in road accidents and the nonchalant attitude of drivers who took the wheel even while drunk. “The poor feel that their lives are not safe, the pedestrians think of uncertainty and the civilised persons drive in constant fear but still apprehensive about the obnoxious attitude of the people who project themselves as larger than life,” the court had said while urging the lawmakers to revisit punishment under Section 304-A.

In another judgment in 2012, the top court had said that the punishment under Section 304-A must be commensurate with the offence and that “the persons driving motor vehicles cannot and should not take a chance thinking that even if he is convicted, he would be dealt with leniently by the court”.

In Dalbir Singh Vs State of Haryana, 2000, the Supreme Court had held that “when automobiles have become death traps, any leniency shown to drivers who are found guilty of rash driving would be at the risk of further escalation of road accidents”.

 

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