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Ajit Singh Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1975CriLJ77
AppellantAjit Singh
RespondentState of Himachal Pradesh
Excerpt:
- .....two years rigorous imprisonment for the two offences respectively.4. the petitioner appealed. the learned sessions judge set aside the conviction of the petitioner under section 304-a and quashed the sentence imposed thereunder. but he maintained the conviction under section 279 and has substituted a fine of rs. 500/- for the sentence imposed by the sub-divisional magistrate.5. learned counsel for the petitioner has contended that having regard to the terms of the charge it cannot be said that the petitioner had adequate notice of the offence under section 279 for which he has been found guilty. it is also contended that the material on the record is wholly insufficient for proving that the petitioner is guilty of an of truce under section 279.6. it seems unnecessary to go into the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

R.S. Pathak, C.J.

1. This revision petition has been filed by Ajit Singh against the judgment and order of Shri T. R. Handa, Sessions Judge, Simla, Kinnaur and Bilaspur, upholding his conviction by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Rampur under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code and sentencing him to a fine of Rs. 500/- or in default to simple imprisonment for three months.

2. The petitioner is a driver employed in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, 3rd Battalion, Sarahan, On February 11, 1972 lie was driving a jeep No. MPH-879 on the Hindustan Tibet Road. At about 1 p.m. he was proceediug from the P.W.D. Rest House side towards Gharat Nala. Four minor girls were walking along the same road in the opposite direction. When the jeep reached the place of occurrence, three of the four girls moved aside towards their left hand side of the road, but the fourth, Basanli, moved to the right hand side of the road towards the jeep and the jeep struck her causing her serious head injuries. The jeep stopped at a distance of 19 feet from the place of occurrence, Basanti later succumbed to the injuries sulfered by her. On subsequent examination the brakes of the jeep were found to be defective. That is the prosecution case. The appellant was charged with offences under Section 279 and Section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code.

13. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, who tried the case, held the petitioner guilty of the offences charged and convicted him under Sections 279 and 304-A of the Code and sentenced him to six months rigorous imprisonment and two years rigorous imprisonment for the two offences respectively.

4. The petitioner appealed. The learned Sessions judge set aside the conviction of the petitioner under Section 304-A and quashed the sentence imposed thereunder. But he maintained the conviction under Section 279 and has substituted a fine of Rs. 500/- for the sentence imposed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

5. Learned counsel for the petitioner has contended that having regard to the terms of the charge it cannot be said that the petitioner had adequate notice of the offence under Section 279 for which he has been found guilty. It is also contended that the material on the record is wholly insufficient for proving that the petitioner is guilty of an of truce under Section 279.

6. It seems unnecessary to go into the question whether the charge framed was insufficient for the purpose of nringing home to the petitioner the precise offence alleged against him. In my opinion, ever if the charge is taken as it stands there is no evidence on the basis of which the petitioner can be held guilty. Section 279 of the Code reads:

Whoever drives any vehicle...on any public way in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life, or be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment ... or with line...or with both.

To be guilty of an offence under Section 279 the accused must drive a vehicle in such a rash or negligent manner as to endanger human life or to be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. Both ingredients must be satisfied. The accused must drive the vehicle in a rash or negligent manner. And the driving is a rash or negligent manner must be such as to endanger human life or be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. A certain aggravated degree of rash or negligent driving is contemplated here. Was the petitioner guilty of such rash or negligent driving? The learned Sessions Judge has upheld the conviction of the petitioner on the finding that he drove the jeep with defective brakes on the road. The finding of the learned Sessions Judge relates this rash or negligent driving to the defective brakes. The question then is: How defective were the brakes:1 What is the evidence as to that? The charge under Section 279 of licorice connects that 'rash and negligent' inaner in which the petitioner drove the vehicle with the death of Basanti. The finding of the learned Sessions Judge is that the brakes were not applied before the collision between the jeep and the girl; on the contrary, lie has found that the brakes were applied after the accident had taken place and that between the application of the brakes and the slopping of the vehicle no untoward consequence followed. Therefore, the accident affords no evidence of the degree to which the brakes were defective; it is independently of the accident that the matter must be considered. That the brakes were defective is inferred by the learned Sessions Judge from the testimony of P.W. 11, Surjan Singh, Assc. Foreman of the Rampur Wokshop. He has deposed that of application of the brakes the vehicle veered to the right. To what degree did the vehicle turn towards the right when the: brakes were applied? This is nothing to show whether because of the aberration the vehicle moved towards the right for a few inches or an appreciable distance before it came to a stop. Unless that is established by the evidence it cannot be said that the brakes were so defective that the driving of the vehicle endangered human life or was likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. In the absence of such evidence, no offence can be held established under Section 279 of the Code. The learned Sessions Judge appears to have assumed that merely because the jeep pulled towards the right when the brakes were applied there was danger to human life or it was likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. He has not considered whether the jeep veered towards the right to such a degree as to make driving it so rash or negligent an act as is contemplated by Section 279. f]c has failed to grasp the entire significance of the requirements of that section.

7. In my judgment, the evidence fails to establish that the petitioner is guilty of an offence under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code.

8. The revision petition is allowed. The judgment and order of the learned Sessions Judge maintaining the conviction of the petitioner under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code and sentencing him to a fine of Rs. 500/- are quashed and the petitioner is acquitted of the said charge.


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