The Punjab and Haryana high court has let off a Punjab Roadways bus driver who was booked for causing four deaths due to negligence by ramming his bus into an auto-rickshaw being driven on wrong side on the Grand Trunk Road in Karnal district of Haryana.
The high court found that the bus driver was not at fault and the accident was result of the auto, carrying ten passengers, suddenly coming in the way of the bus, thus giving no time to the driver to act.
The accident occurred in an area under Sadar police station of Karnal in 1996 in which two brothers and a couple were killed, while six others sustained injuries. After coming out from a village, the auto entered the GT Road from wrong side on April 28. The police had booked bus driver Baldev Singh for rash driving, causing grievous hurt and causing death due to negligence on the complaint of auto driver, Jaipal.
The bus driver was convicted by a judicial magistrate in 2007 and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for rash driving, two years imprisonment for causing grievous hurt and two years imprisonment for causing death due to negligence. All sentences were to run concurrently. The order was challenged before the court of district and sessions judge, Karnal, by the bus driver in 2008, which upheld his conviction. It was against this order, the bus driver moved Punjab and Haryana high court, the same year.
The high court bench of justice TPS Mann concluded that the auto, at the time of the accident, was proceeding in the wrong lane. Hence, it cannot be held that the bus driver had been rash and negligent in causing the accident by dashing the bus against the auto.
It can be held that if the auto was to proceed towards Karnal, it could not have entered the lane meant for traffic coming from the side of Karnal and going towards Panipat, the HC observed. “Apparently, the driver of the three-wheeler had managed to cross the divider and started proceedings towards Karnal, giving no time at all to the driver of the bus to avoid hitting the three-wheeler, and therefore, the bus driver cannot be held to have driven the bus in a rash and negligent manner and caused accident,” the high court bench said, acquitting bus driver of all charges.