The Supreme Court on December 6 reiterated that the provisions for rash and negligent driving are inadequate and need to be revisited. It asked for harsher punishment for rash and negligent driving.
A two-judge bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy told the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the existing provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act and the Indian Penal Code are not a sufficient deterrent, PTI reported. Over-speeding, rash driving, and driving under intoxication constituted 47.9%, 41.5%, and 2.6% respectively of over 1.4 lakh deaths due to road accidents in 2014.
Sections 183, 184, and 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act deal with speeding, driving dangerously, and drunken driving respectively. Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code deals with “causing death by negligence”. Punishments under these laws range from a fine to two years imprisonment. Amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act were introduced in the Lok Sabha in August this year as part of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill. The bill provides for harsher fines for offences under the three sections but the provisions for imprisonment remain the same.
Rohatgi agreed with the court but said that law will have to be amended for enhancing punishments.
According to an HT report, when Rohatgi resisted the court’s directions for legislation, the court said, “We know framing laws is the prerogative of the legislature. But, we hope that you are in a position to communicate the court’s concern. Please see the fate of the people who meet with an accident.” Reminding the AG of its previous suggestions to the government, the bench also said that the “driver not only becomes a threat to himself but also to others” and that compensation cannot substitute for the loss of life.
The AG later agreed with the court that the matter needs “stern handling”. He sought time to return with a reply from competent authorities. The matter will be heard again in the court on March 8.