Witness cannot render ‘opinion’ as to rash and negligent driving; high speed by itself not sufficient criterion: Del HC

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J.allowed a criminal revision petition filed against the judgment of the Appellate Court whereby it confirmed the order of conviction under Section 304-A and 279 IPC passed by the trial court against the petitioner while reducing the sentence therefor.

The petitioner was accused of causing death of the deceased due to his rash and negligent driving. On the fateful night, according to the witnesses, the petitioner was driving his vehicle at a high speed which hit the deceased who was crossing the road. As a consequence, the deceased succumbed to the injuries sustained. The petitioner was charged, tried and convicted by the trial court under the aforementioned sections. He challenged the said order before the Appellate Authority which, while reducing the sentence imposed, confirmed the order of conviction. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner preferred the instant petition.

The High Court, after perusal of the record, noted that the prosecution mainly relied on witness testimonies. referring to earlier decisions, the Court observed that the witnesses can no doubt depose as to the manner of driving or speed of the vehicle; however, they cannot render an opinion as to rashness and negligence. It was further noted that there was no evidence to prove whether the vehicle was being driven in a manner which may be construed as rash and negligent by the court. It was held that high speed, by itself, in every case, cannot be a sufficient criterion to bring home guilt of the driver for rash and negligent driving. There was no evidence as to skid marks, type of injuries sustainedly the deceased, etc. In such circumstances, the Court gave benefit of the doubt to the petitioner and acquitted him of all the charges. The petition was allowed and the order impugned was set aside. [Kishore Chand Joshi v. State,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12337, decided on 12-11-2018]

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