In a case pertaining to death caused due to rash and negligent driving, the Delhi High Court has noted that lifetime ban on the convict from getting a driving license is too harsh a sentence when his entire livelihood is depended upon driving.
While modifying the order of sentence in a revision petition, the Single Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva noted that:
'The punishment of cancellation of the driving license permanently and debarring him from obtaining any driving license throughout his life literally amounts to his civil death because he would not be in a position to carry out his profession for life.'
The Petitioner was challenging the order of the Appellate Court, dated 27/02/2017, wherein his conviction under sections 279 and 304A of the IPC was upheld.
While upholding the conviction, the Appellate Court had reduced the term of imprisonment imposed under section 304A from 18 months to 12 months. However, it had debarred the Petitioner from obtaining a fresh driving licence ever in his lifetime.
Therefore, the Petitioner had challenged this lifetime ban on driving by submitting that he was a
driver and is the sole bread earner of his family having dependent children and wife. Moreover, he survives and earns his livelihood by driving only.
He then argued that the Appellate Court committed a grave error as no direction for cancellation of license was issued by the Trial Court and no such
direction could be issued by the Appellate Court in the appeal as the same amounts to enhancement of sentence and is contrary to the powers of the Appellate Court under Section 386 Criminal Procedure Code.
Further, it was contended that under section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, only the Licensing Authority is empowered to cancel a license or disqualify a person from obtaining a license. Courts can only disqualify a person from obtaining a licence for a limited period under section 20.
The present court did not accept the Petitioner's argument regarding enhancement of sentence by observing that instead of enhancing, the Appellate Court simply altered the nature of the sentence by reducing the component of rigorous imprisonment and altered it to cancellation of the driving licence.
While the court did agree on the fact that the court is empowered to debar a person from obtaining a license for as long a period of deems fit, the cancellation for life appeared as too harsh a sentence for someone whose livelihood depends on that vocation. The court observed:
'The petitioner is a driver by profession and cancellation of the driving license of the petitioner permanently and debarring him from obtaining a driving licence for life amounts to a punishment that he cannot carry out the vocation of driving throughout his life.'
In light of the same, the court modified the sentence order so as to prohibit the Petitioner from obtaining the driving license only for medium to heavy passenger vehicles.
For obtaining a driving licence of other description of vehicles he shall have to undergo a fresh test of competence to drive.
The Petitioner in this case was represented by Advocates Pramod Kumar Dubey, Kushank Sindhu and Anurag Andley
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