A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre as well as UTs to make road accidents a non-bailable offence to deter people from rash driving. The plea also called for directions to reduce the vehicle density on roads by restricting people from buying more than two vehicles in a family, LiveLaw reported.
Based on information and documents obtained from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, portals and RTI applications, the plea, moved by Shrikant Prasad, says that around 67% of accidents in 2019 occurred due to over-speeding and rash and negligent driving.
The plea suggests amendment in section 304A of the Indian Penal Code to make the offence of rash and negligent driving non-bailable and shifting the onus to the accused.
“Amendment in sections 279 and 337, 338 of the Indian Penal Code should make these offenses non-bailable. As the number of road accidents is increasing day by day due to the increasing number of vehicles and rash driving, to curb the accidents, the law must be made more deterrent as there is no fear in the mind of an offender,” LiveLaw quoted the plea.
“A (rash) driver must keep in mind the fear that if he is convicted of the offence for causing the death of a human being due to careless driving, he cannot escape a jail sentence,” the plea added.
While releasing a World Bank report in February this year, Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had termed road accident scenario in India more “dangerous than COVID-19 pandemic.” He had said that there could be a saving of ₹ 90 lakh per person by preventing deaths and reducing injuries to minor ones in such incidents.
According to the Transport Ministry, road accidents have been a major cause of concern across India. The number of road accidents in the first six months of 2020 (January to June) were around 1,60,000, 35% less than the average number of accidents reported in the corresponding period in the previous six years, an obvious result of a nationwide lockdown imposed in March to slow the spread of the pandemic.
The number of people who died also dropped by 30% last year, according to a government reply in Parliament.
On average, nearly 2,48,000 road accidents were reported between January and June each year between 2014 and 2019. The month-wise breakup of accidents for the previous years is from annual reports on road accidents published by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and annual reports on accidental deaths and suicides published by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the government said.