Speed Break To Section 304-A of IPC
(An Urgent Need Of Amendment Of Section 304-A Of Ipc: It Should Be Made Either Non-Bailable Or To Pay Compensation To The Victim Soon)
‘‘Accident is an unforeseen incident. Yet, it must not be a ground to let off the offender. If a person, who is sole bread winner of his family, is died in accident by rash or negligent act of a person, such family may become destitute forever. Therefore, at least immediate compensation must be paid to the victim by the offender besides other benefits to the victim.’’
Keeping in view recent amendment of section 41 of Cr.P.C, if the offence under section 304-A of IPC is made punishable more than 7 years, it automatically becomes non-bailable and then the offender will seek bail from the court. If it is impossible to make it so, the victim should be paid immediate compensation by the person who is responsible for the accident. Now-a-days, minors often commit automobile accidents without having any license. We know that section 304-A of IPC is not a license to kill. At present the punishment is same even if a person kills a single person or more. Juvenile justice act is merely reformative and not deterrent and the society has to take up the cudgels on behalf of the victims. Therefore, it is the time to redefine “juvenile crime”. There is a criticism that unfortunately section 304-A of IPC was applied in Bhopal gas tragedy which helped the victims go scot free. In Arab countries they insist that the offenders pay blood money and if they don’t pay they will be inside the bars till they pay the money.
Section 304A. Causing death by negligence.
[304A. Causing death by negligence.—Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.]
Scope of section 304-A:
In order to impose criminal liability on the accused, it must be found as a fact that collusion was entirely or mainly due to the rashness or negligence; [Munile Sao v. State of Bihar, (1997) 3 Crimes 200 (Pat)].
Difference between rash and negligent act:
There are catena of rulings as to rash and negligent act. I deem that it is appropriate to refer the ruling of the Hon’ble Apex Court ; Cherupin Gregory v. State of Bihar, 1964 (1) Cr LJ 138: AIR 1965 SC 205. This ruling succinctly explains the defference between rash and negligent act. ‘ The appellant was charged with an offence under section 304A for causing death of one M by contact with the electrically charged copper wire which he had fixed up at the back of his house with a view to prevent the entry of intruders into his latrine. It was held that the voltage of the current passing through the naked wire being high enough to be lethal, there could be no dispute that charging it with current of that voltage was a rash act done in reckless disregard of the serious consequences to people coming into contact with it for which the accused is solely responsible under section 304A.’
Conclusions And Suggestions:
1. Nevertheless death is caused (by rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide ) by a minor who is below 18 years of age, the victim should not be suffered and hence section 304-A of IPC should be made non-bailable, or at least compensation should be paid to the victim. Yet, it should not be an escape route to the offender.
2. Each death must be counted separately for claiming compensation.
3. In case of minor commits accident under purview of section 304-A of IPC, the parents of minor/ R.C owners should not be excused and parents/R C owners must be made vicariously liable to pay the compensation to the victims.
4. If the offence under section 304-A of IPC is made punishable more than 7 years, it autometically becomes non-bailable.
5. There must be some speed break to stop deaths by rash or negligent act.
6. When section 326 of IPC is non-bailable, there will be no surprise to amend Section 304-A as non-bailable offence inasmuch as grievous hurt is rather serious than causing death by rash or negligent act.
7. Despite accident is an unexpected event, victim should not left without compensation on that ground.
Ins. by Act 27 of 1870, sec. 12.