Sunday, August 5, 2012

Provide minimum punishment for rash, negligent driving: Supreme Court judge

Justice P Sathasivam was concerned by the very high rate of fatal accidents in India and said if a minimum sentence was not provided, as was prescribed in the Prevention of Corruption Act for various malpractices by public servants, the culprits would escape the rigours of law by paying the fine amount. 

"In order to curb the number of accidents by rash and negligent driving by use of motor vehicles, it is desired that minimum sentence shall be prescribed otherwise by payment of fine, it would be open for the culprits to escape from the clutches of law," Justice Sathasivam said while speaking at the Bone and Joint Day function organized by Indian Spinal Injuries Centre. 

He said this was urgently needed as India had the dubious distinction of having the worst record for road safety in India. "I was alarmed at the statistics provided. In India 120,000 people die and 127,000 sustain injuries every year in road accidents. Also as per the statistics, there is one death on the Indian roads every six minutes and this is expected to escalate to one death every three minutes," Justice Sathasivam said. 

Moreover, India had only 1% of vehicles registered world over, but accounted for 9% of the fatal road accidents, he said. "World Health Organization has revealed in its first ever Global Status Report on Road Safety (2009) that more people die in road accidents in India than anywhere else in the world, including the more populous China," the apex court Judge said. 

On Friday, the Supreme Court — though issued strictures Nanda for his insensitiveness towards injured victims — did not impose any additional sentence while asking him to pay an additional fine of Rs 50 lakh that would be utilized for compensating victims of highway accidents caused by untraceable vehicles. It had also asked him to do community service for two more years. 

Justice Sathasivam on Saturday said the judiciary has taken note of the galloping trend of road accidents in India and its devastating consequences. "The courts have always taken a very strict view on the sentencing policy," he said. 

Citing judgments of the apex court, he said a professional driver should not take chance thinking that even if he was convicted for rash and negligent driving; he would be dealt with leniently by the court. 

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