Uttaranchal High Court: In a case wherein a criminal revision was filed against the judgment and order dated 25-11-2013 passed by the Sessions Judge, whereby, the revisionists were convicted under Sections 279 and 304-A of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and were sentenced under Section 279 of the IPC for a term of three months simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1000 each, Pankaj Purohit, J.*, opined that sequence of the incident reflected that the accident was not caused by the rash and negligent driving of the driver of the vehicle and the basis that doctrine of res ipsa loquitur stricto sensu would not apply to a criminal case as its applicability in an action for injury by negligence was well known.
The revisionists were the driver and conductor of a roadways bus. It was alleged that the bus was being driven by its driver very rashly and negligently and a woman fell out of the bus and came under the rear wheels of the bus and her head crushed, and she died on the spot. After investigation, the charge sheet was submitted against the revisionists, and in the post-mortem report the cause of death was shown as asphyxia and haemorrhage.
The Court after considering the evidence of the prosecution witness, noted that the deceased was standing at the door of the moving bus, when it was about to reach to the destination of the deceased and suddenly, due to some jerk, the door of the bus opened, and she fell out of the bus causing her accidental death on the spot. From the technical report, the Court inferred that the latch of the door of the bus was already loose. The Court opined that the sequence of the evidence was not proving the rash and negligence either of the driver or of its conductor beyond all reasonable doubt and thus, it would be safe to give the benefit of doubt to the revisionists.
The Court opined that in criminal cases, the burden of proof stands much higher than that of civil matters. In criminal matters, the circumstances against the accused must be proved and established firmly and it must be unerringly pointing towards the guilt of the accused. The Court relied on Nanjundappa v. State of Karnataka, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 628 and held that the principle of res ipsa loquitur in stricto sensu would not apply in cases falling under Section 304-A of the IPC. Thus, the Court allowed the criminal revision and had set aside the judgement and order of the Trial Court.
[Virendra Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand, 2023 SCC OnLine Utt 960, decided on 29-08-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Revisionists: Ms. Neetu Singh, Mr. Lalit Sharma, Advocates.
For the Respondents: Mr. Kuldeep Singh Rawal, A.G.A.
*Judgement authored by – Justice Pankaj Purohit