The Apex Court in the case of State of Punjab v. Dil Bahadur has observed that “The court must not only keep in view the rights of the victim of the crime but the society at large while considering the imposition of appropriate punishment. The court will be failing in its duty if appropriate punishment is not awarded for a crime which has been committed not only against the individual victim but also against the society to which both the criminal and the victim belong.”
The matter relates to negligent driving due to which one person died while overtaking an ambulance. Two persons who were sitting in the ambulance also sustained injuries. A case was filed under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The trial court convicted the respondent-accused under Sections 279 and 304A IPC and the same was confirmed by the sessions court. When the matter went to HC, it reduced the sentence from two years to eight months, subject to a prior deposit of Rs 25,000 towards compensation to be paid to the family/legal heirs of the deceased. An appeal was filed before the Supreme Court.
A division bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar, rejected the view of HC while putting reliance on the case of State of Himachal Pradesh v. Ramchandra Rabidas wherein emphasis was laid on the need to strictly punish offenders responsible for causing motor vehicle accidents. The court observed, “Cogent reasons were given by the trial court while sentencing the accused to undergo two years RI for the offence under Section 304A of IPC. From the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court, it appears that the case on behalf of the accused that he is coming from a poor family is considered as mitigating circumstance.”