Sunday, 19 April 2015

STATE OF PUNJAB V/s SAURABH BAKSHI DECIDED ON 30.3.2015


India has a disreputable record of road accidents. Drunkenness contributes to careless driving leading to lose of innocent lives. Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 was inserted in 1870 by the Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act 1870. The section pertains to causing death by negligence. The present case examines the fundamental purpose of imposition of sentence for causing death by negligence which is based on the principle that the accused must realize that the crime committed by him has not only created a dent in his life but also a concavity in the social fabric. The purpose of just punishment is designed so that the individuals in the society which ultimately constitute the collective do not suffer time and again for such crimes.

Facts

Jagdish Ram and his nephew (the victims) were proceeding to Patiala when an Indica car bearing registration No. HR-02-6800 came from the opposite side at a very high speed and the driver (the Accused/Respondent) of the said car hit straightaway the car of Jagdish and dragged it to a considerable distance as a result of which it fell in the ditches. Both the victims had sustained serious injuries. An FIR was filed against the Respondent, and a case under Section 279/304A of the IPC was registered against the Respondent for rash and negligent driving. The Respondent was convicted for the offences punishable under Section 304A Indian Penal Code and the trial court sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of one year and pay a fine of Rs. 2000/-. The Respondent thereafter approached the High court vide revision petition against the conviction. The High Court upheld the conviction and reduced the sentence to the period already undergone on the basis that the Respondent had adequately compensated the victims. Hence, the present Appeal has been preferred by the State against the said order.

Issues

The court dealt with the concept of adequacy of quantum of sentence imposed by the High Court under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code (Indian Penal Code) after maintaining the conviction of the Respondent.

Decision of the Court
·       The court while analyzing a catena of decisions opined that in the present case, the factum of rash and negligent driving has been established. The court further held that the Respondent has graduated himself to harbour the idea that he can escape from the substantive sentence by payment of compensation.
·    Neither the law nor the court that implements the law should ever get oblivious of the fact that in such accidents precious lives are lost or the victims who survive are crippled for life which, in a way, is worse than death. Young age cannot be a plea to be accepted in all circumstances.
·   Needless to say, the principle of sentencing recognizes the corrective measures but there are occasions when the deterrence is an imperative necessity depending upon the facts of the case.
·     The apex court held that the High Court has been swayed away by the passion of mercy in applying the principle that payment of compensation is a factor for reduction of sentence to 24 days. Such being in the realm of misplaced sympathy. 

The court while upholding the conviction reduced the one year sentence imposed by the trial court to a period of six months.

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