of Karnataka Vs. Sharanappa Basanagouda Aregoudar  Insc 161 (21 March 2002)
Sethi & K.G. Balakrishnan K.G. Balakrishnan, J.
appeal is preferred by the State of Karnataka against sentence imposed on the respondent on the ground of its
inadequacy. The respondent was found guilty of offences punishable under
Sections 279, 337, 338 and 304A of the Indian Penal Code. The trial Magistrate
imposed a sentence of six months' imprisonment on the respondent for the
offence punishable under Section 304A IPC. No separate sentence was awarded for
offences punishable under Sections 279, 337 & 338 IPC. The respondent filed
an appeal against his conviction and sentence, but the appellate court declined
to interfere therewith.
respondent thereafter filed a Revision before the High Court and by the
impugned judgment the learned Single Judge confirmed the conviction of the
respondent on the three counts, but as regards the offence punishable under
Section 304A, the sentence was reduced to payment of a fine of Rs.5,000/- and
in default thereof, the respondent was to undergo simple imprisonment for three
months. The learned Judge had chosen to impose a sentence for the offence under
Section 337 IPC with a fine of Rs.500/-, in default to simple imprisonment for
15 days; and for the offence under Section 338 IPC with a fine of Rs.550/-, in
default to simple imprisonment for 15 days. No separate sentence was awarded
for the offence punishable under Section 279 IPC.
heard learned counsel on both sides. Learned counsel for the appellant-State
contended that this is a case where the respondent was found guilty of rash and
negligent driving which resulted in the death of four persons and injury to one
person. The learned Single Judge, it was submitted, was unduly lenient by
awarding a light sentence to the respondent. It was submitted that this has
caused a serious miscarriage of justice and, therefore, the impugned judgment
be altered by awarding appropriate sentence on the respondent.
the purpose of this case, we would very briefly narrate the facts.
Dr. Venkatesh Kanakareddy, along with members of his family proceeded to Mysore in a car from his native village Mahalingapur
on 3.8.1991 to visit his son who was studying there. PW-2, who was working as a
Compounder in his nursing home, also accompanied Dr. Venkatesh Kanakareddy.
They spent the night of 3.8.1991 at Mysore and at 8.00 PM on 4.8.1991 left Mysore.
about 7.30 AM on the next day, i.e. 5.8.1991,
they reached a place called Todas Cross near Hubli. The car driven by Dr. Venkatesh
had a head-on collision with a mini lorry No. KA 25-1040 driven by the
respondent-accused. As a result of the collision, the right front wheel of the
car burst and the driver of the car lost control of the vehicle and it dashed
against a nearby tree. Dr. Venkatesh Kanakareddy, his wife and another occupant
of the car died on the spot and one person was injured. The injured was removed
to the nearby hospital, but he also succumbed to his injuries later on. The
trial Magistrate and the appellate court found the respondent guilty of
offences punishable under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 304A IPC based on the
evidence adduced by the prosecution. In Revision, the learned Single Judge of
the High Court also confirmed the conviction of the respondent, but modified
the sentence, for which the reasons recorded in paragraph 2 of his judgment are
the evidence, it is apparent that due to bursting of the front tyre, the car
went to right side of the road and that is how the collision took place. While
to this extent the petitioner could be said to be innocent and while that
aspect of innocence could certainly influence the decision relating to
sentence, I am of the opinion that the accident having taken place at 7.00
a.m., with no other vehicles being on the road and when it is as wide a road as
of 40 feet width totally, the negligence on the part of the petitioner lies in
the fact that he did not make any efforts to avoid the collision. It is for
this reason that I would conclude that the petitioner has rightly been
convicted of the offences. However, in the circumstances, this is not a case
wherein the petitioner should be sent to jail as has been done by the learned
Magistrate and as affirmed by the learned Sessions Judge." It may be noted
here that the respondent had raised a plea before the learned Magistrate as
well as before the appellate court that the accident might have occurred due to
the bursting of the right front tyre of the car as a result of which the car
went to the right side of the road and dashed against the lorry.
this plea was not accepted by the trial court as well as the appellate court. A
suggestion to this effect was put to the Motor Vehicles Inspector who had
examined the vehicle after the accident. However, the Inspector also declined
the suggestion that the accident might have occurred as a result of bursting of
the tyre and he opined that the tyre would have burst due to the collision
between the two vehicles. The possibility of the car having gone to the extreme
right side is also ruled out by the evidence. The observation made by the Revisional
court is not based on the evidence on record.
of the view that having regard to the serious nature of the accident, which
resulted in the death of four persons, the learned Single Judge should not have
interfered with the sentence imposed by the court below. It may create and set
an unhealthy precedent and send wrong signals to the subordinate courts which
have to deal with several such accident cases. If the accused are found guilty
of rash and negligent driving, courts have to be on guard to ensure that they
do not escape the clutches of law very lightly. The sentence imposed by the
courts should have deterrent effect on potential wrong-doers and it should
commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.
course, the Courts are given discretion in the matter of sentence to take stock
of the wide and varying range of facts that might be relevant for fixing the
quantum of sentence, but the discretion shall be exercised with due regard to
larger interest of the society and it is needless to add that passing of
sentence on the offender is probably the most public face of the criminal
facts and circumstances of this case, we are inclined to interfere with the
judgment of the learned Single Judge and hold that the respondent is liable to
undergo the sentence imposed by the trial Magistrate and affirmed by the
appellate court. Consequently, we direct that for the offence punishable under
Section 304A, the respondent be taken into custody to undergo a simple
imprisonment for six months. As regards offences under Section 279, 337 and 338
IPC, no separate sentence has been awarded by the trial Magistrate.
direction of the trial Magistrate is maintained.
appeal would stand allowed accordingly.
R.P. Sethi ] J [ K.G. Balakrishnan ] March 21, 2002.