New Delhi: A drunken driver is like a suicide bomber who has set out to kill himself and other road users, a Delhi court said on Tuesday and proposed stringent punishment to the offenders. The court made these observations while setting aside the sentence of an autorickshaw driver who found driving in an inebriated state.
"It won't be inappropriate to say that a drunken driver is like a suicide bomber, who has set out to kill himself as well as the other road users and thus deserves a very stern sentence which should have a deterrent effect and discourage everyone from driving after alcohol intake," Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhatt said.
The judge, while dismissing the convict's appeal against a trial court order awarding him a jail term of 20 days, also observed that excessive consumption of alcohol impaired a driver's ability to judge things on road.
"A stern sentence to these offenders would go a long way in making roads safer, thereby saving precious human lives. The menace of drunken driving has assumed alarming proportions and one of the ways to curb it is by imposing severe sentence on offenders," the court said.
It said that a drunken driver risks not only his own life but also that of other motorists as well as pedestrians.
"Excessive consumption of alcohol blurs one's vision and intensely impairs the ability to judge things on the road," it said, adding that a drunken driver cannot take spontaneous and rational decisions or quick response while driving after consuming alcohol.
The court's observations came on the appeal of Pawan Kumar, an autorickshaw driver, who had challenged the sentence awarded to him by a magisterial court that had sent him to a 20-day jail term for drunken driving in a crowded area here and imposed a fine of Rs 2,000.
In his appeal against the order, Kumar had said he was not assailing his conviction but the sentence as he was a first-time offender and that the imprisonment would leave an "indelible" scar on his life.
The court, while dismissing his appeal, said the fact that he was driving the autorickshaw during the peak rush hour after heavily consuming alcohol, made the offence more severe.
"There would have certainly been a horrible tragedy, if he was not stopped by traffic police officials," it said, adding that the sentence of 20 days imposed on him was "in no way, harsh or unwarranted." It also noted that Kumar was driving without a licence, permit, fitness, insurance and pollution certificates.
The Supreme Court has urged lawmakers to consider a change in law to have a more stringent punishment in terms of rash and negligent driving causing death.
Justice Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant asserted that a maximum punishment of two years in jail with fine under Section 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) may not serve the purpose of a law being deterrent, which could be an imperative necessity at times.
Section 304A of the IPC deals with the offence of causing death by rash and negligent act and provides for imprisonment for maximum of two years or fine or both.
“India had a disreputable record in this regard and asked the lawmakers to re-look and re-visit the penal laws,” said the bench.
The SC was anguished over the growing cases of reckless and drunken driving.