Talking to your best friend while driving might not be easy now. The Supreme Court on Wednesday urged the government to enhance punishment for those who talk on the their mobile phones while driving.
Considering that “uncontrolled propensity for adventure” and “competition to pick up the speed” have been dealt with iron hands, the Apex Court also added that the punishment should provide for an exemplary penalty for driving dangerously.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra was hearing a case of rash and negligent driving when it sought the assistance of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi whether pertinent statutes required amendments to have more stringent punishment where rash and negligent driving causes death.
Rohatgi said that as per the current Motor vehicles Act, the punishment for driving dangerously is inadequate and must be revised.
He agreed with the bench that cases of death due to rash driving required “stern handling”, but pointed out that enhancing punishment under Section 304A might not serve the purpose, since this provision was applicable not only to causing death due to negligent driving but also all other slack acts that could result in somebody’s death.
The AG further said that many accidents take place because people use their cell phones while driving and hence get distracted because of it. To which the bench said, that such offenders are booked under Section 84 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which entails punishment for driving dangerously. This provision provided for a maximum jail term of six months or a only fine of Rs 1000 for the first offence. Imprisonment for two years or a fine of Rs 2000 is provided for a subsequent offence.
The bench observed that Section 184 was drafted in a manner that those booked under it could bail themselves out by paying Rs 1000 or Rs 2000, without the need to serve any time behind bars. When asked, the AG said that the punishment under Section 184 was inadequate.
“There are individuals who drive the vehicle because of their uncontrolled propensity for adventure. They really do not care for the lives of others. It can be stated with certitude that the number of vehicles in the country has increased in geometrical manner and the people are in a competition to pick up the speed, ” said the bench.
The Supreme Court expressed its seriousness in dealing with the issue and told Rohatgi that innocent people cannot die due to “whims, fancy and adventurism” of those behind the wheel thinking that they are “larger than life.”