Hit-and-run: Violators to be charged under stiffer law, to attract stricter penalties

Salman Khan’s Landcruiser after it went on a killing spree

By NewsGram Staff Writer

In the wake of increasing incidents of road deaths caused by drunken driving, the home ministry has decided to introduce a Cabinet note inserting a new provision in the penal code. The punishment for a fatal hit-and-run accident where the driver is intoxicated will now increase.

The ‘Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2015’ being drafted by the home and law ministries will introduce a new Section–304 (A) (2) — in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which specifies a maximum seven-year sentence for killing a person on road and fleeing away from the scene.

Currently, Section 304 (A) enunciates a maximum sentence of two years for “rash and negligent act leading to death or injury”. Under the proposed changes, two years will now be the minimum penalty and the upper limit will be set at seven years.

The amended Section 304 (A) (2) will specifically deal with “causing death or injury by rash and negligent driving” and subsequently “driving or running away” without informing any police station within a reasonable time. Punishment will be more stringent and the offence will become non-bailable.

However, the provisions related to drunken driving are only a part of a plethora of changes proposed by the government.

Prospective changes also include criminalizing bribery in the private sector, making dowry offences compoundable. A Section of IPC under which people attempting to commit suicide can be prosecuted may also become history.

If an offence is committed under existing Section 304 (A) or the new Section under the influence of drinks or drugs, it shall be deemed to have been committed in a rash or negligent manner.

“This may remove a lot of confusion over charging intoxicated drivers, who run away from scene of the accident, under the Section 304 (Part 2) or simply Section 304 (A),” a senior home ministry official told ET.

Two other provisions related to rash driving and causing hurt due to it; acts punishable under Section 336 and 337 respectively are going to attract stiffer penalties.

In May this year, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was charged under Section 304 (Part 2) of IPC–dealing with ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’. He was sentenced to a five year prison term after the court decided to charge him under the stiffer law.