From January 1, 2015 to November 30 this year, as many as 167 people lost their lives in 165 road accidents under the jurisdiction of the city police, but only three cases were registered under stringent Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC, including two in which cops had died.
While in other cases involving ‘ordinary people’, the lenient charge of death due to negligence (304-A of IPC) was applied which apparently shows the indifferent attitude of the city police.
The third case was registered under Section 304 of the IPC after violence erupted on the Jalandhar-Amritsar national highway after a Libra Transport bus crushed a 12-year-old boy Nishan to death and seriously injured his cousin Mohit on the Lamba Pind Chowk on March 4. Furious people had blocked the highway and vandalised the bus.
According to figures collected by the city police, as many as 77 hit-and-run cases were registered in 2015, out of which only a single case was filed under Section 304. This case involves the death of Punjab Home Guard employee Puran Chand, who died after a motorcyclist hit him during a naka at Burlton Park stadium on May 17, 2015. In other 76 cases of 2015, 76 people died and police applied Section 304-A.
This year from January 1 to November 30 , a total of 90 road accidents were reported and 88 people died in these mishaps.
Besides the Nishan case this year, the second case was registered under Section 304 when, on November 27 late night, assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Joginder Parshad was crushed to death by a truck near the focal point locality on the National Highway-1 here. He was a part of a patrolling team at a police checkpoint when a truck from the Maqsudan bypass side came and hit him resulting in his death on the spot.
It is obvious that the police used lenient charges against the persons responsible for the deaths.
Last year, a white Honda city car crushed a groundnut seller on the roadside in Model Town to death and left another seriously injured on December 26 late night, the police applied Section 304-A (causing death by negligence), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way) of the IPC.
30-year-old Jeevan Bala, a resident of Rehmanpur village in the district, was crushed to death by a speeding Mahindra Scorpio at Suchi village on the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway on May 1. Earlier, the police had booked the Scorpio driver under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), but later changed the section to 304-A (causing death by negligence) and 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way), which are bailable offence.
Senior criminal lawyer Darshan Singh Dyal told HT that Section 304 is very different from 304 (A). Section 304 is attracted when there is a knowledge that death has been be caused by act, whereas 304 (A) is only death by negligence. He added that under Section 304 of the IPC, there is a punishment up to life imprisonment while in Section 304-A, which is a bailable offence, entailing a maximum punishment of three years of imprisonment.
He agreed police used Section 304 only in those cases, which are high-profile or when their own employees are involved or when there is a severe protest by the victim’s kin.