This case analysis is written by Khan Mahenoor Barsati, a student of Rizvi Law college

Case No

Criminal Appeal No. 66 of 1969

Equivalent Citation

AIR 1972 SC 685, 1972 CriLJ 496, (1972) 3 SCC 18, 1972 (4) UJ 487 SC

Bench

Justice D Palekar and Justice P J Reddy

Decided on

5/01/1972

Relevant Act and Section 

Section 304A IPC

Section 337 IPC

Section 338 IPC

Brief Facts and Procedural History

In the instant case, an appeal was filed by the state government against the acquittal of the bus driver who has been declared charged in Munsif Magistrate, Alampur, for offences under Sections 304A, 338 and 337

The appeal by the government was made and the high court has declared the bus driver convicted, convicted him to undergo strict imprisonment for two years under Section 304A IPC and made the other penalties to run together with the same conviction, hence the appeal was filed before the Supreme Court against the same 

The factual scenario is as follow:

The appellant, the Bus  Driver of an R.T.C. Bus No (APZ 1672) was driving the bus on 1-1-1966 (Accident day) from Kurnool to Vanaparthy however, the bus evacuated Kurnool at approximately 6.15 A.M. and entered the Railway level crossing gate between the Alampur Road Station and Manopad Railway Station at nearly 6.30 or 7.00 A.M.

The railway crossing had a gateman and it was his duty to close the gate when a train is predicted to pass by,  but at the moment when the bus reached, the gate found open. The Driver hence passed through the entrance and crossed the track when unexpectedly a train rushed against the vehicle on the backside, as the consequence of that the bus was drawn away resulting in severe damages and injuries to the 43 passengers. 

One passenger died on the spot, three died later in the hospital and about 21 other passengers received further or less serious injuries.

The charge sheet was filed against the appellant as it was considered that he was reckless, careless, negligent in striking out the railway track when a train filled with goods was about to pass the gate.

However, the appellant contended that he was not negligent and the accident was indispensable. He did not acknowledge at all that a Goods train was enacting at the moment and since the entrance was empty or open, Driver struck out the railway crossing unconscious of the evidence that a train was moving toward, and also the  Magistrate court has approved the defence but the High Court was gratified to hold that the appellant stood both rash and negligible.

Moreover, all the witnesses interrogated to confirm the case against the appellant turned hostile, but The High Court relied upon a few witnesses for its outcome that the appellant was both sudden and careless, and it is asserted that these witnesses had not substantiated the charge against the appellant.

It was further argued that the Magistrate have had accepted a very reasonable view of the case and, thus, the High Court should not have impeded with the decree of acquittal and the view of the High Court could not be maintained on the evidence which occurred in favour of the appellant that the conviction stood outrageous and improper.

Issue before the Court

Whether the appellant was either rash or negligent.

Ratio of the Case

It was considered that Rashness comprises hazarding a hazardous act with the understanding that it may cause injury. 

Thus, the criminality fabricated in a case is running the harm of performing a concerning act recklessly as to the outcomes. 

Criminal negligence, on the other hand, is the terrible and guilty neglect or loss to exercise that adequate and proper care and precaution to conserve against injury either to the public or to an individual having concern to all the situations out of which the penalty has arisen

The evidence ascertained by the passengers was extremely late to curb, crash because the bus had already crossed the route and saving the circumstance would be to speed up the vehicle, which according to the witness, the driver had done. Unfortunately, the train whisked against the rear side of the bus. 

Judgment of the Case

It was held by judges that Blameworthy failure in the instant case prevaricates in the loss to exercise adequate and proper care and the extent that of reasonableness had always relied upon the circumstances of any case.

However, it was further considered that The gate was opened and scheduled train to pass at the time hence,  the driver would be justified in driving his vehicle through the level crossing.

Thus, it was taken into account that Passenger trains usually have a schedule and if a train is expected to come at about the time the appellant entered the level crossing, a regular driver of motor vehicles on that route found negligent in crossing the railway tracks and if any mischance, the gate was empty. But the train in the instant case was not a passenger train but a Goods train and it is not demonstrated that the Goods train was scheduled to pass the level crossing just at about the time the bus reached the spot. 

The appellant doesn’t even know that a Goods train would be coming at that moment hence The court held that 

” The appellant was guilty of criminal negligence merely because he did not stop when the road signal wanted him to stop” and the case was clear ease of unavoidable accident because of the negligence of the gateman in keeping the gate open and inviting the vehicles to pass.

The order of conviction and sentence was set aside and the appellant was acquitted.

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