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SC expresses displeasure at Madras HC on its approach in remitting sentence

Elayraja challenged the order of High Court of Madras wherein the conviction of the offences under Section 304-A IPC and Section 3(1) r/w.

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The Supreme Court bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Aniruddha Bose dismissed the petition of a man who killed a woman while driving his tractor. The Apex Court expressed displeasure at the Madras High Court’s lenient approach in remitting the sentence of the man, Elayaraja, from 6 years to 3 in the case where a death has been due to negligence.

The Supreme Court said that though Elayaraja was acquitted under Section 279 of IPC , it does not give him benefit under Section 304-A IPC. The petitioner’s counsel stated that Elayaraja has an infant child, a wife and is a daily wage labourer and the sole bread-earner of the family. Justice Maheshwari asked the counsel to talk on merits and not try to gain empathy from the court. 

Elayaraja had challenged the order of the Madras HC wherein the conviction of the offences under Section 304-A IPC and Section 3(1) r/w. 181 of the Motor Vehicles Act passed by trial court, affirmed by the High Court. The High Court has also partly allowed the criminal revision case by reducing sentence from 2 years to 1 year of R.I. under Section 304-A IPC, further it directed to secure the petitioner and commit him to prison to undergo remaining sentence. 

The prosecution’s case is that the deceased, Indumathi, and her sister Praveena were going to school and were hit from behind by a tractor, which was being driven by Elayaraja. Since she was run over, Indumathi died on the spot and Praveena sustained injuries. Upon a complaint of their father, a case was registered. The inquest report said the the cause of Indumathi’s death was crush injuries on chest and abdomen. Elayaraja did not have a valid driving license also. 

The issue arose that whether in exercising revisional jurisdiction which involves concurrent finding of fact, arrived by two courts, can the High Court act as a second appellate court.  Dealing with the issue, the High Court emphasised upon the judgment of Bir Singh vs. Mukesh Kumar (2019) 4 SCC 197 held as under:

17.As held by this Court in Southern Sales & Services v. Sauermilch Design and Handels GmbH [Southern Sales & Services v. Sauermilch Design and Handels GmbH, (2008) 14 SCC 457] , it is a well-established principle of law that the Revisional Court will not interfere even if a wrong order is passed by a court having jurisdiction, in the absence of a jurisdictional error.”

The trial court found Elayaraja guilty under Section 279 , 304-A, IPC and u/s 3(1) r/w 181 of Motor Vehicle Act vide order dated 21.08.2012. Elayaraja was awarded conviction and sentence under Sec 279 IPC, six months rigorous imprisonment and also to pay a fine of Rs 500, in default, to undergo simple imprisonment for one month, Section 304 –A, two years rigorous imprisonment and also to pay a fine of Rs 9,000, in default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 3 months, Section 3(1) r/w. 181 of the Motor Vehicles Act – a Fine of Rs 500, in default, to undergo simple imprisonment for one week . 

Read Also: Supreme Court nominates division benches for extremely urgent miscellaneous matters during summer vacation

Elayaraja filed a criminal revision against conviction and sentence before Principal District and Sessions Judge, Vellore. The Principal District and Sessions Judge, Vellore by judgment and order dated 11.09.2013, acquitted the petitioner of the offence under Section 279 IPC, but confirmed the conviction and sentence with regard to the other offences.

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