Traffic offenders can be tried under both IPC & MV Act: SC
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that those violating traffic rules and causing accidents by rash and negligent driving could be tried and punished separately under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), besides the Motor Vehicles Act.
Setting aside a Gauhati High Court ruling that provisions of IPC cannot be invoked against traffic rule violators and they could be punished only under the MV Act, a bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and Sanjiv Khanna said ingredien
ts of offences under both statutes are different and an offender can be tried and punished independently under them.
It said the principle that the MV Act, being a special law, should prevail over the general law has no application in cases of prosecution of offenders in road accidents under both the IPC and the MV Act.
The bench said the MV Act is a beneficial legislation whose primary objective is to provide a statutory scheme for compensation of victims of accidents, while the IPC is punitive and deterrent in nature and its main objective is to punish offenders.
The court said keeping IPC out of traffic rule violation cases would lead to anomalous situation as the accused could be let off lightly since offences under the MV Act are compoundable in nature and no proceedings would be initiated if the accused pleads guilty and deposits the fine imposed. It also said there is no provision under the MV Act to deal separately with offences causing death or grievous hurt.
“If the IPC gives way to the MV Act and the provisions of CrPC succumb to provisions of the MV Act as held by the HC, even cases of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and 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 emphasised on the need to strictly punish offenders responsible for causing accidents. The financial loss, emotional and social trauma caused to a family on losing a bread-winner, or any other member cannot be quantified,” it said.
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