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Driving Slow But Recklessly Amounts To Rash & Negligent Driving: Kerala High Court

Hannah M Varghese
13 Dec 2021 4:06 AM GMT
Driving Slow But Recklessly Amounts To Rash & Negligent Driving: Kerala High Court
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The Kerala High Court has ruled that driving a vehicle in a reckless and negligent manner even if it is done at a low speed, would still amount to 'rash and negligent driving' under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).While adjudicating upon a matter concerning rash and negligent driving of tractors used along the trekking path, the Division Bench of Justice Anil K. Narendran and...

The Kerala High Court has ruled that driving a vehicle in a reckless and negligent manner even if it is done at a low speed, would still amount to 'rash and negligent driving' under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

While adjudicating upon a matter concerning rash and negligent driving of tractors used along the trekking path, the Division Bench of Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice P.G Ajithkumar observed:

" A person who drives a vehicle on the road is liable to be held responsible for the act as well as for the result. It may not be always possible to determine with reference to the speed of a vehicle whether a person was driving rashly and negligently. Both these acts presuppose an abnormal conduct. Even when one is driving a vehicle at a slow speed but recklessly and negligently, it would amount to 'rash and negligent driving' within the meaning of the language of Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860." 

The case was suo motu taken up by the Court on the basis of a report from a Sabarimala devotee alleging that negligent driving of tractors for transportation of goods at Sabarimala on the trekking road was threatening the safety of the pilgrims.

The Court placed reliance on the Supreme Court decision in Ravi Kapur v. State of Rajasthan where it was held that rash and negligent driving has to be examined in the light of the facts and circumstances of a given case. As such, the Bench observed that if a person is driving slowly but recklessly, it could still amount to 'rash and negligent driving' under the ambit of Section 279 IPC.

Moreover, the Court noted that the doctrine of reasonable care imposes an obligation or a duty upon a person (for example a driver) to care for pedestrians on the road and this duty attains a higher degree when the pedestrian happens to be a child of tender age.

"It is axiomatic to say that while driving a vehicle on a public way, there is an implicit duty cast on the drivers to see that their driving does not endanger the life of the right users of the road, maybe either vehicular users or pedestrians. They are expected to take sufficient care to avoid danger to others."

Accordingly, the Court directed the Deputy Superintendent of Police and Station House Officer to take necessary steps to ensure that the movement of tractors through the trekking path, even in case of emergency, does not pose any threat to the safety of pilgrims.

The Court noted that through its orders passed in 2016 and 2017, it had permitted the movement of tractors for transporting goods from Pamba to Sannidhanam by stakeholders other than Travancore Devaswom Board at night and in case of emergency, from noon to 3:00 pm as well, subject to the satisfaction of the emergency situation before the Special Sabarimala Commissioner.

Last month, the Court had issued an order prohibiting the movement of devotees, Devaswom Officials, Police personnel, etc. in tractors used for transportation of goods through trekking paths. The Court directed the respondents to ensure strict compliance with its previous orders.

The State gave an undertaking to assure that no threat is posed to the safety of the pilgrims and that the movement of tractors through the trekking path will be done with the least possible inconvenience to devotees.

The Court directed the concerned police authorities to take necessary steps to ensure that the movement of tractors through the trekking path does not cause any threat to the safety of the pilgrims.

Click Here To Read/Download The Order


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