Supreme Court: Showing immense anguish over the disreputable record of road accidents in India, the bench of Dipak Misra and P.C. Pant, JJ asked the lawmakers to scrutinize, re-look and re-visit the sentencing policy in Section 304A IPC.
In the present case, the 2 people had died as an outcome of the rash and negligent driving of a motor vehicle by the respondent. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had reduced the 1 year imprisonment to 24 days i.e. the period already undergone during the trial upon payment of compensation by the respondent. Terming this reduction of sentence to be a mockery of justice, the Court held that the said decision by the High Court was taken absolutely in the realm of misplaced sympathy and that such a crime blights not only the lives of the victims but of many others around them and ultimately shatters the faith of the public in judicial system. Hence, it was held that the one year imprisonment awarded by the Trial Court should be reduced to 6 months and that the respondent be taken into custody forthwith to suffer the remaining period of sentence.
Quoting the words of Sophocles that “Law can never be enforced unless fear supports them”, the Court said that the non-challan drivers feel that they are the “Emperors of all they survey” and that in such cases deterrence is an imperative necessity. Stating that life to the poor or the impecunious is as worth living for as it is to the rich and the luxuriously temperamental, it was further said that neither the law nor the court that implements the law should ever get oblivious of the fact that in such accidents precious lives are lost or the victims who survive are crippled for life which, in a way, worse than death. State of Punjab v. Saurabh Bakshi, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 278, decided on 30.03.2015