AA Edit | Justice should be done over Porsche accident

Public outcry ensues after a juvenile's release after a fatal accident, highlighting loopholes in the legal system & road safety measures

The terrible accident in which a teenager, allegedly under the influence of alcohol, drove a Porsche and knocked down two young software engineers on a motorcycle in Pune this week, killing them, has drawn the attention of Indians, primarily for the reason that the boy was released by the Juvenile Justice Board after being asked to write a 300-word essay on road safety.

Following public outcry, the police later requested the board to review its order which it did, cancelled his bail and sent him to a rehabilitation centre until June 5. But his father has been arrested and remanded in judicial custody.

However, law enforcement agencies will possibly face a hard challenge while investigating and prosecuting this case. Reports suggest that the minor has been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code for endangering the safety of lives and causing death by negligence well as under provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. The father, on the other hand, has been booked under relevant sections of the Juvenile Justice Act. Police have sought the minor’s prosecution as an adult but it is highly unlikely.

While the application of the JJ Act on the minor is justifiable, booking the father, who appears to have failed miserably in his duties as a parent and a citizen, under the same Act will be a travesty of justice. The sections under which he has been charged under the JJ Act now could possibly allow him to walk free after paying a fine.

Special laws made for vulnerable people, such as juvenile delinquents, are an indicator of the distance the human race has travelled in understanding societal structures, and also of the evolution of the idea of justice. From the time when might was right and an eye for an eye was the idea of justice, crimes have come to be viewed from a social perspective rather than the individual one. Retributive justice is being replaced by restorative justice, albeit slowly. One such revolutionary approach was to treat minors with a yardstick different from that for adults.

But the benefit of such forward thinking should go only to the deserving. The lawmakers must wake up to a situation where a negligent grown-up whose dereliction of duty cost the lives of two innocent people might get the benefit of a special law, and take the necessary action to stop it.

The incident must also force the authorities and people to ponder over the causes why innocent people are losing their lives on the road. A total of 1,68,491 lives were lost and 4,43,366 people injured in 4,61,312 road accidents in India in 2022, the latest year for which official data is available. The figures were 11.9 per cent higher for accidents, 9.4 per cent in fatalities, and 15.3 per cent in injuries compared to the previous year.

It is unacceptable that, on an average, 461 people who hit the road in search of their daily bread do not return home. The government has to work on a mission mode to identify the reasons for such an unacceptable number of accidents and deaths, and figure out solutions.

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