There should be fear of law, whether people like it or not,” the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, advocating a stricter punishment for rash and negligent driving.
A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy asked Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi for his opinion on increasing the punishment for reckless, drunken and rash driving.
At present, section 304A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (causing death by rash and negligent act) covers these offences and anyone found guilty can be jailed for two years. This, the court said, is inadequate to deter errant drivers.
“We know framing laws is the prerogative of the legislature. But, we hope that you (AG) are in a position to communicate the court’s concern. Please see the fate of the people who meet with an accident,” the bench told Rohatgi when the law officer expressed a slight resistance.
“The driver not only becomes a threat to himself but also to others and no amount of compensation can be a substitute for life loss,” the bench said, recalling two earlier SC verdicts that gave a similar suggestion to the government that has paid no heed to the advice.
Justice Misra clarified that it was concerned only with rash and negligent driving and not other negligent acts that may fall within the definition of section 304A of the IPC.
Rohatgi informed the bench that he was in communication with the competent authorities on the issue. He said he was also concerned on the inadequacy of penal provisions to deal with the problem. “One needs a stern handling,” he admitted.