Racing aficionados and spoilt brats who love to zoom around on city roads in Mercs and BMWs, often causing hit-and-run accidents, better take note. Getting off lightly after causing accidents due to rash driving may not be easy any more, as the government has asked the Law Commission of India to suggest the possibility of making the law on rash driving stringent. Commission president Justice AR Laxmanan, it is learnt, is considering a proposal to increase the punishment for rash driving from two years to seven years.
The enhanced punishment may also be accompanied with a heavy fine. According to section 304 (a) of the Indian Penal Code, death caused by a rash and negligent act does not amount to culpable homicide or murder. It allows the police to release an accused on bail without producing him before a magistrate.
In short, for a person indulging in rash and negligent driving, the law only demands that he carry Rs 950 in his pocket. This meagre amount is sufficient to obtain bail even if he fatally knocks down a person or cripples a person for life. According to officials in the law ministry, the Law Commission's report is expected to address this "anomaly".
"We are expecting a report this month. Thereafter, law minister HR Bhardwaj will take a decision on the matter," said a top ministry official. To make the law more stringent, lawyers suggest that every person booked for rash driving should undergo a mandatory blood test. If the test reveals that the person is under the influence of alcohol, the law should impose a minimum sentence along with a fine and such offences should be non-bailable, said a criminal lawyer.