Toothless laws have left law enforcement agencies with few tools to curb rising number of fatal road accidents, a Gurgaon traffic police survey has revealed. In a study of 75 such cases reported in 2010, the accused were imprisoned under section 304(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) only in 13 cases.
According to section 304(A), if any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide leads to a death, the accused can be punished with a maximum jail term of two years.
Moreover, the study found out that not even one driving license was cancelled after conviction. Only in 4 cases, the victims got a meagre compensation - Rs 30,000, Rs 5,000 each in two cases and Rs 2,000.
"Efforts such as recommending cancellation of driving licence of errant drivers have not materialised as the licensing authorities have not addressed the issue at all," said a police official.
In rare cases, offenders are booked under section 304 of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) which can lead to a maximum jail term of 10 years. But, according to experts, it is very difficult to get conviction under this section.
"In a city with good roads and luxury vehicles, laws are archaic and ineffective. When it comes to dangerous or drunken driving, the Motor Vehicle Act and Indian Penal Code are absolutely toothless in terms of punishing offenders," said a former Delhi police official who resides in Gurgaon.
The lack of stringent laws is best illustrated in the case where three students of reputed public schools were killed in a car crash in 2008 on the Gurgaon Expressway. The car was being driven by one of their friends who was allegedly drunk. He escaped with two years in jail.