Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mukta Gupta, J. dismissed a criminal leave petition filed against the judgment of the Magistrate whereby the respondents were acquitted of offences punishable under Sections 279 and 338 IPC along with Sections 146 and 196 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

According to the prosecution, on the day of the incident, the respondents were driving a bike without an insurance policy on a public way in a rash and negligent manner. They hit the complainant who fell down and sustained injuries. Case of the prosecution rested upon the testimony of the complainant who stated that he was crossing the road on a green signal and on reaching the middle of the road he was hit by the respondents’ bike.

The High Court noted that the complainant did not depose as to which of the respondents was driving the bike in a rash and negligent manner. Thus, he failed to identify the accused who committed the offence. Furthermore, the prosecution failed to clarify whether the green signal was for pedestrians or vehicles. In such view of the matter, the Court was of the view that judgment of the Magistrate did not require interference. The petition was dismissed. [State v. Mohd. Furqan,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12913, dated 20-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In pursuance of the order dated 26.08.2016 on the issue relating to inadequate punishment under Section 304-A IPC, Mukul Rohatgi, the Attorney General submitted that Section 304-A covers all kinds of deaths by negligence and, therefore, mere providing of higher punishment may not sub-serve the cause of justice. Elaborating further, he said that when a broken wall falls and someone gets injured or a person dies, Section 304-A is also attracted.

The Attorney General also submitted that some people drive while putting their mobile phones in the ears as a consequence of which disastrous consequences take place and the effect is the person gets into misery or he causes miseries to others. It was further mentioned that sometimes, people who drive while using mobile phone are booked under Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 which provides for imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 1000 in case of commission of offence for the first time. He submitted that the said provision is not sufficient for adequate handelling of the situation in praesenti and asked the Court to list the matter on 06.12.2016.

Showing grave concern over the vehicular accidents that extinguish the life-spark of many because of the whim and fancy, adventurism of the men at the wheel and harbouring of the notion that they are “larger than life”, the Court said that it is a matter of common knowledge that the drivers drive because of their profession but there are individuals who drive the vehicle because of their uncontrolled propensity for adventure. They really do not care for the lives of others. It can be stated with certitude that the number of vehicles in the country has increased in geometrical manner and the people are in a competition to pick up the speed.

The Bench of Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan, JJ had asked the Attorney general to assist the Court and had said that Section 304-A IPC requires to have a re-look because the punishment provided therein is absolutely inadequate in the context of the modern day. [Abdul Sharif v. State of Haryana, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 865, decided on 21.09.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court:  Dismissing the criminal miscellaneous case where the petitioner having been  charged under Sections 304-A, 279 and 338 of the Penal Code, 1860 for causing death due to rash and negligent driving, sought quashing of the proceedings on the basis of a compromise entered into by the parties, the Court observed that such offences cannot be treated as a private dispute between the parties, so as to persuade the Court to accept a compromise and quash the proceedings.

The petitioner contended that a compromise had been entered into at the instance of mediators and the respondents had no objection to the proceedings being quashed. The Public Prosecutor however opposed the same, submitting that the Court was kept in the dark as to the terms of the settlement and the actual legal heirs of the deceased. Hence, if the offence under Section 304-A is quashed on the basis of a purported settlement with one of the legal heirs of the victim,  it would send a wrong signal.

The Bench of Raja Vijayraghavan, J. observed that an offence under Section 304-A IPC has the potentiality of making victims in many a layer thus creating a concavity in the social fabric. The impact on the society is felt all the more when accidents take place due to rash driving by drunken, negligent or adventurous drivers with no concern for others. The Court in exercise of powers under Section 482 CrPC cannot send a signal to the wrongdoer that payment of money can be a substitute for the crime committed against the society. The Court held that taking a lenient view of such an offence under Section 304-A will leave a wrong impression about the criminal justice system, encouraging further criminal acts, thus endangering the peaceful co-existence and welfare of the society at large. [Mohammed Ashraf v. State of Kerala, 2016 SCC OnLine Ker 4258, order dated May 18, 2016]