Thursday, June 8, 2023

Bombay High Court observes driving at high speed alone will not attract offence of rash and negligent driving

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The Bombay High Court has observed that driving at high speed alone will not attract the offence of rash and negligent driving.

The Single-judge Justice SM Modak in his order said that to satisfy the offence of rash and negligent driving, the driver should be both  rash and negligent.

The judge explained that rash driving means that someone is driving at high speed whereas negligence component involves not giving proper attention to driving.

The act will be punishable only if the driving was both rash and negligent.

The Court observed that Act of the driving is punishable only when it is rash and negligence (sic). Rashness implies the speed which is unwarranted. Whereas act of the negligence involves not taking proper care and attention while driving.

Keeping this in mind,the Court, upheld the acquittal of a man who was booked for causing the death of a cyclist and a bullock after his the car had hit them. 

The man was charged for offences under Sections 279 (rash and negligent driving), 337 (hurt due to rash and negligent act), 338 (grievous hurt due to rash and negligent act) and 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act. 

While the trial was on,live witnesses were examined, documentary evidence was produced. The case by  prosecution stated that the car of the accused was being driven at a high speed. 

The trial court, however, acquitted the accused in 2009 which was challenged by the State of Maharashtra before the Bombay High Court.

The High Court said that speed alone cannot be a determinative factor to conclude that the driver was driving the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner.

The court said that no doubt he said that Tata sumo came speedily. It has to be appreciated on the basis of other available materials. 

With the evidence given,the High Court also could not make out the direction in which the car and the bullock cart were moving for understanding how they crashed into each other.

The court observed that it is really strange state of affairs, when such matters are conducted neither Investigating Officer has prepared a map/rough sketch, nor trial court has taken pains in recording directions correctly in the evidence.

The court said that if there is some confusion, the trial Court could have clarified it from the witnesses by putting questions which is permissible by law.

It also said that there was no evidence to corroborate the statements of the bullock cart driver. 

The Court held that although it was true that the consequence of the accident were the death of the one bullock and the bicycle driver,the trial court could not come to the conclusion about rash and negligent driving by the respondent. 

As the Court was unable to come to that conclusion for the above reasons,It upheld the order of acquittal.

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