Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Traffic rule violators can be prosecuted & punished independently under both MV Act and IPC: SC

Emphasising the need to strictly people for violating traffic rules and for causing accidents punish by their rash and negligent driving, the Supreme Court has held that offenders could be tried and punished separately under Motor Vehicles Act and also under stringent Indian Penal Code. 

Setting aside Gauhati high court verdict ruling that the provisions of IPC cannot be invoked against traffic rule violators and they could be punished under MV Act, a bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and Sanjiv Khanna said the ingredients of offences under the both statutes are different and an offender can be tried and punished independently under both statutes. 
It said the principle that MV Act being special law should prevail over the general law has no application in cases of prosecution of offenders in road accidents under the IPC and MV Act. Differentiating between the two laws, the bench said that MV Act is a beneficial legislation whose primary objective is to provide a statutory scheme for compensation of victims of motor vehicle accidents but the IPC, on the other hand, is a punitive and deterrent in nature whose object is to punish offenders for offences committed under the IPC.

The court said that keeping IPC out of traffic rule violation cases would lead to anomalous situation as the accused could be lets off with lightly as offences under MV Act are compoundable in nature and no proceedings would be initiated if the accused pleads guilty and deposits the fine imposed. It also pointed out that there is no provision under the MV Act which separately deals with offences causing death, or grievous hurt. 
“If the IPC gives way to the MV Act, and the provisions of CrPC succumb to the provisions of the MV Act as held by the High Court, then even cases of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, causing death, or grievous hurt, or simple hurt by rash and negligent driving, would become compoundable. Such an interpretation would have the consequence of letting an offender get away with a fine by pleading guilty, without having to face any prosecution for the offence committed,”the bench said. 

“This Court has time and again emphasised on the need to strictly punish offenders responsible for causing motor vehicle accidents. With rapidly increasing motorisation, India is facing an increasing burden of road traffic injuries and fatalities. The financial loss, emotional and social trauma caused to a family on losing a bread winner, or any other member of the family, or incapacitation of the victim cannot be quantified,”it said.

It said that Sections 279, 304 Part II, 304A, 337 and 338 of IPC have been specifically framed to deal with offences like rash and negligent driving resulting in death, or hurt, or grievous hurt and an accused could be prosecuted under both the laws simultaneously. 
“The principle of proportionality between the crime and punishment has to be borne in mind. The principle of just punishment is the bedrock of sentencing in respect of a criminal offence. The maximum imprisonment for a first time offence under Chapter XIII of the MV Act, is up to only six months; whereas the maximum imprisonment for a first time offence under the IPC in relation to road traffic offences can go upto 10 years under Section 304 Part II of the IPC. The sentence imposed by the courts should be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence, and should have a deterring effect on wrong doers. The punishment of offenders of motor vehicle accidents under the IPC is stricter and proportionate to the offence committed, as compared with the MV Act,”the bench said. 
“We thus hold that a prosecution, if otherwise maintainable, would lie both under the IPC and the MV Act, since both the statutes operate with full vigour, in their own independent spheres. Even assuming that some of the provisions of the MV Act and IPC are overlapping, it cannot be said that the offences under both the statutes are incompatible,”the bench said.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Supreme Court has directed the Bihar Police Subordinate Service Commission to conduct their physical tests

"The presence of lady members in the police force, considering the crime against women, is a prime need of the hour. Thus we feel that every endeavor should be made to ensure that there is higher representation of women in the police services," said the bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Krishna Murari.