Author : Prity Kumari
Citations- (2012)2 SCC 648
Bench- SB Singh, Harjit Singh Bedi
Introduction – it had been seen that in earlier cases of drunken driving leading to an accident were being determined in accordance with sections 337 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Under these sections, there are provisions with warrant maximum punishments of imprisonment for six months and a couple of years respectively. However, in Alister Anthony Pareira v. State of Maharashtra, Supreme Court held that during a case
where an allegation is raised regarding an accident being caused as a consequence of drunkenness, the investigating agency is sure to register the case under section 304, IPC. The culpable homicide not amounting to murder being given partially II of section 304, and imposes punishment of 10 years rigorous imprisonment. The drunken driving has now been made punishable under section 304 part II also as under sections 337 and 338, which affect injury caused by negligence. the planet Health Organisation in its Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2012 has noted that speeding
and drunken driving are two major contributing factors in road accidents. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the amount of deaths caused by road accidents in India per annum exceeds 1,35,000. The NCRB Report has also observed the same.
Facts – On November 12, between 3:45- 4:00 A:M, a car saw a pavement and
killed seven persons and eight persons gets injured at the Carter Road. The appellant, Alister Anthony Pareira was driving the car bearing license number MH-01-R-58. He rammed the car over pavement, thereby causing the death of seven persons and injuring eight others. A FIR was registered under sections 304, 279, 336, 337, 338 and 427 of the IPC, section 185 of the automobiles Act, 1988 IPC and section 66(1)(b) of the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949. After completion of the investigation, the charge sheet was filed under sections 304 part II and section 338 of the IPC. For the
purpose of an equivalent, eighteen witnesses were examined. The appellant admitted the fact of driving the car, but contended that the accident occurred thanks to breakdown and other mechanical defects. The court convicted the appellant under sections 304A and 337 of the IPC. The court sentenced simple imprisonment of six months with a fine of Rs. 5 lakhs for the offence under section 304A IPC, and straightforward imprisonment of 15 days for the offence under section 337 IPC. The state of Maharashtra preferred a criminal appeal challenging the acquittal under the section
304 part II, and section 338. The state of Maharashtra preferred another criminal appeal, seeking an enhancement of the sentence awarded by the court for the offences under sections 304A and 337. The appellant also preferred a criminal appeal to set aside the judgement and order dated April 13, 2007 gone by the court. All the appeals were heard together by Bombay supreme court and were disposed of on the dated September 6, 2007. The supreme court put aside the acquittal. The supreme court
sentenced the appellant to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 3 years for the offence punishable under section 304 part II, and imposed a fine of Rs. 5 lakhs. For the offence under section 338, simple imprisonment of 1 year and for the offence under section 337, an easy imprisonment for 6 months was imposed. The appellant preferred an appeal to the Supreme Court, challenging the choice of the Bombay High Court.
Issues and facts of law- four issues raised for consideration during this case-
(i) Whether accusation on the 2 charges, namely, the offence punishable under Sections 304 Part II IPC and Section 338 IPC dwell an equivalent transaction as one case of Rash or Negligent Act?
Under section 304 part II, the knowledge of the very fact that his acts can cause death is important. In many cases, the courts had attributed reasonable knowledge as a precondition to convict an accused. On the opposite hand, sections 337 and 338 of the IPC make a negligent act punishable regardless of the knowledge or intention. These offences are made punishable due to the inherent danger of the acts in question. With reference to the accusation under sections 304 part II and section 338, the court held that the fees could co-exist during a single case of rash or negligent act because the acts in question are within the same transaction.
(ii) Whether omission of charging the appellant of `drunken condition’ was
prejudicial to the appellant? The appellant claim of the unfairness on the bottom that the prosecution has omitted the charge of the drunken isn’t being accepted, the Supreme Court said that section 464 (i) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which states that an order of a court shall not be deemed invalid merely on the bottom of any error, omission or
irregularity within the charge, unless it leads to injustice. He had full opportunity to mention what he wanted to mention with reference to the prosecution evidence and fair trial is sine qua non within the criminal justice system. 1 The court held that the provisions of section 313
of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) had been fairly, or a minimum of substantially, complied with by the court within the same. Thus, from the above facts, it becomes clear that the prosecution’s omission didn’t end in any prejudice to the appellant.
(iii) Whether prosecution evidences establish beyond reasonable doubt the
commission of the offences being committed by the appellant under Section 304 Part II, IPC, Section 338 IPC and Section 337 of Indian legal code, 1860?
The supreme court, after consideration the whole prosecution evidence, came to the conclusion that
(1) the accused was under the influence of liquor at the relevant time;
(2) he drove the car at a really high speed; and
(3) he did not control the car and therefore the car ran over the people sleeping on the pavement. The supreme court held that the accused was also conscious of the very fact that at the place of occurrence people sleep because the accused himself was the resident of that area. The Supreme Court agreed with the conclusions of the supreme court and held that the evidence and materials on record proved beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant had the knowledge of all his acts and therefore the cases of negligence can’t be eliminated on the ground that the act being involuntary. within the present case, the essential ingredients required for the punishment under the Section 304 Part II IPC and Section 338 IPC
against the appellant were held to be clearly established by the prosecution.
(iv)Whether sentence awarded by the supreme court for the offence punishable under Section 304 Part II IPC requires any modification?
It was argued on behalf of the appellant that having reference to the facts: (i) the appellant has already undergone sentence of two months and has paid Rs. 8,50,000/- as a fine and compensation; (ii) the appellant is further willing to pay reasonable amount as compensation/fine as could also be awarded by this Court; (iii) the appellant was about 20 years aged at the time of occurrence of the offence; and (iv) the appellant lost his father during the pendency of the appeal and presently being the person of
means for his family, he could also be released on probation of excellent conduct and behavior or the sentence awarded to him be reduced to the amount already undergone. Coming to the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court held that the prosecution had been successful in proving the guilt of the accused under Section 304 Part II IPC which shows despicable aggravated offence warranting punishment proportionate to the crime. thanks to the act of the appellant, seven precious human lives were lost. The Supreme Court further observed that for an offence like this, sentence of three years awarded by the supreme court is just too meagre punishment and after viewing the gravity of the offence, the court refused to scale back the sentence and accepted the punishment awarded by the Bombay supreme court.
Judgement- The court after being satisfied with the facts and circumstances of the case held that it doesn’t justify advantage of probation to the appellant permanently conduct or for any reduction of sentence. Thereby, the appeals were dismissed. Appellant’s bail bonds were cancelled. He was ordered to forthwith surrender for undergoing the remaining sentence as awarded by the supreme court within the Judgment and Order dated
September 6, 2007.