Aynuddin @ Miyam Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh  INSC 388 (28 July 2000)
passenger, while boarding a bus, fell down therefrom as the vehicle moved
forward. The driver of the bus was held guilty of culpable negligence in that
episode. He now stands convicted under Section 304A of Indian Penal Code and
was sentenced to imprisonment for three months. All the three courts, the trial
court, the Sessions Court and the High Court in revision - took the same stand.
Hence this appeal. The finding of facts cannot be disturbed now. The only
question which survives for decision is whether on such facts a conclusion that
the appellant is guilty of negligent driving must necessarily follow. The facts
which the courts found to have been established in the case are these:
17.12.1993 the appellant was driving a bus of the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport
Corporation. A passenger by name Agamma boarded the bus enroute at some point.
When the bus moved forward she fell out of the vehicle and its rear wheel ran
over her. She died of the injuries sustained in that accident.
conductor of the bus was examined as PW3. He did not say how the accident
happened. However, he admitted that while the bus was in motion he heard a
sound of accident and the bus was then stopped. The only witness who spoke
about the occurrence was PW4. What that witness has deposed in the
examination-in-chief is the following:
was boarding the bus and the bus was moved;
she fell down beneath the bus and died on the spot; the bus stopped at some
distance. I saw the driver of the bus at that time.
is the culpable negligence on the part of the bus driver in the above accident?
A passenger might fall down from a moving vehicle due to one of the following
could be accidental; it could be due to the negligence of the passenger
himself; it could be due to the negligent taking off of the bus by the driver.
However, to fasten the liability with the driver for negligent driving in such
a situation there should be the evidence that he moved the bus suddenly before
the passenger could get into the vehicle or that the driver moved the vehicle
even before getting any signal from the rear side.
driver who moves the bus forward can be expected to keep his eyes ahead and
possibly on the sides also. A driver can take the reverse motion when that
driver assures himself that the vehicle can safely be taken backward.
a wrong proposition that for any motor accident negligence of the driver should
be presumed. An accident of such a nature as would prima facie show that it
cannot be accounted to anything other than the negligence of the driver of the
vehicle may create a presumption and in such a case the driver has to explain
how the accident happened without negligence on his part. Merely because a
passenger fell down from the bus while boarding the bus no presumption of
negligence can be drawn against the driver of the bus.
principle of res ipsa loquitor is only a rule of evidence to determine the onus
of proof in actions relating to negligence. The said principle has application
only when the nature of the accident and the attending circumstances would
reasonably lead to the belief that in the absence of negligence the accident would
not have occurred and that the thing which caused injury is shown to have been
under the management and control of the alleged wrong doer.
act is primarily an over hasty act. It is opposed to a deliberate act. Still a
rash act can be a deliberate act in the sense that it was done without due care
and caution. Culpable rashness lies in running the risk of doing an act with
recklessness and with indifference as to the consequences. Criminal negligence
is the failure to exercise duty with reasonable and proper care and precaution
guarding against injury to the public generally or to any individual in
particular. It is the imperative duty of the driver of a vehicle to adopt such
reasonable and proper care and precaution.
present case the possible explanation of the driver is that he was unaware of
even the possibility of the accident which happened. It could be so. When he
moved the vehicle forward his focus normally would have been towards what was
ahead of the vehicle. He is not expected to move the vehicle forward when
passengers are in the process of boarding the vehicle. But when he gets a
signal from the conductor that the bus can proceed he is expected to start
moving the vehicle. Here no witness has said, including the conductor, that the
driver moved the vehicle before getting signal to move forward. The evidence in
this case is too scanty to fasten him with criminal negligence. Some further
evidence is indispensably needed to presume that the passenger fell down due to
the negligence of the driver of the bus. Such further evidence is lacking in
the court is disabled from concluding that the victim fell down only because of
the negligent driving of the bus. The corollary thereof is that the conviction
of the appellant of the offence is unsustainable. In the result, we allow this
appeal and set aside the conviction and sentence and he is acquitted.