‘Fast speed no substantial indicator of rash driving’, Court acquits man in Road Accident Case

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In a unique judgment, a man, who was awarded six months in jail for hitting a cyclist with his crane truck, has been acquitted by a Delhi court. It observed that the man could have applied the brakes but the cyclist came out of nowhere.

Santosh Kumar had appealed against his conviction and the jail term after being found guilty under Section 279 (rash driving) and Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of IPC after he had allegedly run over a man in 2011.

Principal District and Sessions Judge,  Dharmesh Sharma found his conviction to be “erroneous” and observed that it was difficult to discern that Kumar was driving the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner.

“Merely because he was allegedly driving at fast speed is no substantial indicator of rash driving. Indeed, he could have applied brakes but it appears that the cyclist came from nowhere and the accident happened due to error of judgment on the part of the appellant/convict as also the cyclist,” the judge pointed out.

The Court also pulled up the investigating officer of the case, stating, “The investigation was completely lackadaisical and the investigating officer, ASI Raj Kapoor, did not do any worthwhile investigation.”
Kumar had faced the trial for allegedly hitting 22-year-old Subhash Kumar with a crane truck and causing him grievous injuries that ultimately resulted in his death on May 15, 2011 in Mayapuri.

There were 11 witnesses examined by the prosecution to prove its case against Kumar, who, an eyewitness claimed, was driving the vehicle rashly and at a fast speed. However, according to the court, the witness testimony did not inspire confidence.

“It is in the testimony of the witness that it was a Sunday and there is nothing to discern in his evidence that there was heavy traffic on the road early morning in the month of May that year.”

Further, the court opined that the evidence showed that the road was about 60-feet wide. Records also didn’t show any skid marks of the truck that could indicate that it was being driven in an “uncontrolled, rash or reckless” manner, it said. However, there was no dispute over the driver’s identity, the court added.

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