People should fear the law whether they “like it or not”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said while favouring harsher punishment for rash and negligent driving. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said that the provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act and section 304A (causing death by rash and negligent act) of IPC, which provides for a maximum two years jail term, seems to be inadequate to deter errant drivers. “Whether people like it or not, there should be fear of law among them,” the bench said while voicing concern over lives lost due to “drunken, rash, reckless, high-speed and adventurist” driving. It said that “the driver not only becomes a threat to himself but also to others and no amount of compensation can be a substitute for life loss”.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that he is in communication with the competent authorities on the issue stricter punishment for such kind of driving.
The bench had sought the assistance of Rohatgi to know the fate of apex court’s suggestions, given in two earlier verdicts, to Parliament to re-visit the law dealing with mishaps causing death and injury to innocents on roads due to rash and negligent driving. He said that the law needs to be amended for enhancing the punishment for negligent driving and sought eight weeks time to come back with a reply from the competent authorities.
Rohatgi shared the concern of the bench on inadequacy of penal provisions to deal with the menace and said that he agrees that the manner in which vehicular accidents due to reckless driving take place requires “stern handling”. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on March 8. Earlier, Rohatgi had told the apex court that rash and negligent driving by “adventurist” motorists needs to be curbed with an “iron hand”.
The top law officer had told the apex court that existing provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and section 304A (causing death by rash and negligent act) of IPC, were inadequate to deal with the menace. The court had termed as “absolutely inadequate” the maximum punishment and asked Rohtagi to apprise “competent authorities to have a re-visit of the relevant provisions”.