New Delhi, March 30: The rich and the mighty escape with lesser punishment for rash driving, the Supreme Court today said, as it called for a tougher law.
The court said the punishment for rash and negligent should be stringent and for that, the law must be changed.
"There is a nonchalant attitude among the drivers. They feel that they are the ’Emperors of all they survey’," the judges said, expressing concern over road accidents.
"Drunkenness contributes to careless driving where the other people become their prey. The poor feel that their lives are not safe, the pedestrians think of uncertainty and the civilized persons drive in constant fear but still apprehensive about the obnoxious attitude of the people who project themselves as larger than life...we are bound to observe that the lawmakers should scrutinize, re-look and re-visit the sentencing policy in Section 304A, IPC . We say so with immense anguish."
The Supreme Court’s comments came as a court in Mumbai is in the advanced stages of the trial of actor Salman Khan on charges of culpable homicide.
The 49-year-old film star is accused of drinking and driving his SUV and running over people sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai on September 28, 2002.
Today, his driver appeared in court for the first time and said he was the one behind the wheels. He denied the prosecution’s charge that he took money to lie in court.
The Supreme Court’s judgement today came on an appeal by the Punjab government against a high court order that reduced the jail term of a man from one year to just 24 days for a 2007 accident in which two people died.
Three years ago, the top court had asked courts across the country not to be lenient while considering the punishment for causing death due to rash driving.
India has among the world’s worst road accident statistics. Earlier this year, the Centre for Science and Environment said there are 16 deaths and 58 road accidents every hour in India.