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Punjab roadways driver gets 2-yr jail for death of minor in accident

The speeding bus rammed into a school bus killing an 11-year-old student and injuring three others in 2018
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Shailee Dogra
UPDATED ON FEB 11, 2020 01:03 AM IST


Almost two years after an 11-year-old boy died in an accident, 50-year-old Punjab roadways driver was convicted for rash negligent driving. Ludhiana depot driver Balbir Singh was awarded two years jail for causing the minor’s death.

The court of Garima Gupta, judicial magistrate 1st class, Kharar, dismissed his plea for leniency and also imposed a fine of 3,000 on the convict who hails from Samrala in Ludhiana.

On February 12, 2018, Balbir, driving in speed, had rammed his bus into a school bus, wherein 11-year-old Samarth Sachdeva died on the spot and another was grievously injured.

“Considering the gravity of the offence, and facts and circumstances of the case, it is not a fit case to release the convict on probation,” said the court. Identification by an eyewitness, including the lady attendant and driver of a school bus and an injured student helped prove Balbir’s guilt.

“The impact of the collision caused shards of the windowpane to slit Samrath’s throat and hurt his head, killing him on the spot,” police had said after the mishap. Three other students, including Samrath’s 13-year-old sister Khwaish had also been injured in the accident.

Police had registered a case on statement of Dharminder Sharma the driver of the school bus who was ferrying students of St Joseph’s School, in Sector 44-D, Chandigarh. On February 12, 2018, he had picked up 10 students and along with the lady attendant, Reena Rani, was on his way to pick up other students. At about 7:10 am, when he was on the road towards GBP Apartments/Housing, Balbir Singh, driving in speed, came from the Ludhiana side and hit the school bus. Reena said she had also signalled with her arm for the bus to stop but it did not. With the impact of the collision, a student Samarth Sachdeva died at the spot due to throat and head injury and another student Aarav Aggarwal sustained serious injuries. The driver fled after he got to know about the death of student.

A case under Sections 279 (rash driving), 337 and 338 (causing hurt by act endangering life with provision for fine) and 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC was registered in police station Kharar (Sadar).

School bus driver at fault: Defence
Pleading false implication, Balbir Singh’s counsel told the court the accident was caused owing to the school bus driver’s fault, who himself was driving at high speed and he turned the school van without giving an indicator.

However, the court dismissed the submissions saying, “Why would the accused surrender if he was not involved in the accident being the driver of the offending vehicle? No motive has been attributed for false implication of the accused.”

Bus not insured, driver and GM to pay compensation: MACT
In September 2019, motor accident claims tribunal (MACT), Mohali, had directed a bus driver and the general manager of Punjab Roadways, Ludhiana, to pay 5.9 lakh to parents of the deceased Samarth— Pooja and Rampal Sachdeva of Kharar. The tribunal ruled that since the bus was not insured and the accident was caused due to rash and negligent driving of bus driver Balbir Singh, and the offending vehicle is owned by Punjab Roadways Ludhiana depot, the respondents are liable to pay the compensation jointly and severally.

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