New Delhi: Concerned about the menace of rash and negligent driving which claims nearly 400 lives on Indian roads every day, the Supreme Court said on Friday that the existing two-year imprisonment for the offence was grossly inadequate.
Holding that the penalty failed to act as a deterrent and criticising the Centre for not changing the law, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan said it was high time to inject the fear of law among drivers who put the lives of pedestrians and other drivers at risk. Law-makers should amend Section 304A of IPC and introduce harsher punishment for causing death due to rash and negligent driving, the court said. There is a nonchalant attitude among drivers.
“They feel that they are the emperors. Drunkenness contributes to careless driving where other people become their prey. The poor feel that their lives are not safe, the pedestrians think of uncertainty and the civilised persons drive in constant fear but are still apprehensive about the obnoxious attitude of the people who project themselves as larger than life,” the bench said.
Section 304A says “Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both”. Referring to previous judgements of the apex court, the court asked the Centre why it had failed to comply with its orders and sought assistance of attorney general Mukul Rohatgi.”We have said that Section 304-A IPC should be revisited so that higher punishment can be provided,” it said.
“We have said in our judgement that Section 304A needs to be amended but still the government has not taken any step. It is a matter of concern,” the bench told additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, who assured that the court would be apprised of the Centre’s views on the next hearing.