Panel wants culpable homicide tag for drunken driving deaths

The committee also suggested that if the drunk driver commits an accident, 'his action should not be construed as mere negligence'.

New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel on Wednesday recommended that necessary legislation be amended to include deaths due to drunken driving as "culpable homicide not amounting to murder" under Indian Penal Code (IPC).

"Drunken driving is a major cause of road accidents... This malady needs to be dealt with a firm hand... The government may amend the necessary legislation to include the deaths due to drunken driving as culpable homicide not amounting to murder," the parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture said in its report on Motor Vehicles Bill.

Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code says "whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine..."

The committee also suggested that if the drunk driver commits an accident, "his action should not be construed as mere 'negligence', rather it should be treated as a pre-meditated commitment of a crime and the drunken driver should be made punishable under relevant provisions of IPC depending on consequences of the incident”.

Noting that the method of testing alcohol in the blood of offender is not foolproof and the standard of breath analysers is not good enough to provide authentic reports, it recommended that the government go for testing machines of international standards.

The committee also found it appropriate to increase the penalty for offences of racing and trials of speed.

The government in August last year approved the much-awaited Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 that proposes hefty penalties for violation of traffic norms, including up to Rs 10,000 fine for drunken driving and Rs 2 lakh compensation for hit-and-run cases.

The Bill also has provision of up to Rs 10 lakh compensation in case of road fatality.

The proposals in the Bill are based on the recommendations of transport ministers from 18 states, which include penalties of Rs 1,000-4,000 for overspeeding.

As per the Bill, driving without insurance will be punishable with Rs 2,000 fine and/or 3-month imprisonment while driving without helmets will attract Rs 2,000 fine and 3-month suspension of licence.

The provisions also include that the guardian and owner will be deemed to be guilty in case of road offence by juveniles while registration of the vehicle will be cancelled.

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