Worried over growing cases of rash driving SC asks for tougher punishment

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Thousands of people lose their lives in road accidents every month in India and an overwhelming majority of those are caused by reckless and drunken driving. In fact, cases involving rash driving are increasing all over India at such an alarming rate that the Supreme Court is urging the lawmakers to consider enacting more stringent punishment for those found guilty of causing death through negligent and/or rash driving.

A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra observed that a maximum punishment of two years of imprisonment and monetary fine under Section 304A of the IPC may not always serve the purpose of a deterrent law.

“The poor feel that their lives are not safe, the pedestrians think of uncertainty and the civilized persons drive in constant fear but still apprehensive about the obnoxious attitude of the people who project themselves as ‘larger than life’. In such obtaining circumstances, we are bound to observe that the lawmakers should scrutinize, re-look and re-visit the sentencing policy in Section 304A, IPC. We say so with immense anguish,” said the court.

The court also observed that India seems to have a disreputable record of road accidents and there was an increasingly nonchalant attitude amongst drivers which must be curbed.

“This court has been constantly noticing the increase in number of road accidents and has also noticed how the vehicle drivers have been totally rash and negligent. It seems to us that driving in a drunken state, in a rash and negligent manner or driving with youthful adventurous enthusiasm as if there are no traffic rules or no discipline of law has come to the centrestage,” it said.

Many people in India have the notion that they can avoid harsh punishment by paying a compensation.

“Such developing of notions is a dangerous phenomenon in an orderly society. Young age cannot be a plea to be accepted in all circumstances. Life to the poor or the impecunious is as worth living for as it is to the rich and the luxuriously temperamental,” the court added.

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