Traf­fic of­fend­ers can be tried un­der both IPC & MV Act: SC

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Front Page - AmitA­nand.Choud­hary @times­

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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