Leave Petition was granted to the offender charged under Sec 279 & 338 of IPC: Supreme Court

Sec 279 & 338 deal with punishment to whoever drives any vehicle, or rides, on any public way in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life, or to be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. A single-judge bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhusan adjudicating in the matter of Surendran v. Sub-Inspector of Police(CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 536 OF 2021) dealt with an issue of whether to accept the appeal of the Appellant in the present case or not.

In the present case, The Appellant has filed an appeal against the judgment of the High Court dated 01.09.2015 dismissing the Criminal Revision filed by the appellant challenging his conviction and sentence under Section 279, 337, and 338 IPC. The appellant was a bus driver and has caused an accident on 16.02.1995 in which the car driver of KL 10B 5634 was injured. The appellant was charged with offense under Sections 279, 337 and 338 IPC.

The Judicial First Class Magistrate passed a judgment dated 28.04.1999 convicted the accused under Section 279 IPC and 338 IPC and sentence him to undergo six months imprisonment and a fine of Rs.500/- was imposed, in default to undergo simple imprisonment for one month under Section 337 IPC. An appeal was filed by the appellant which was dismissed by the learned Sessions Judge by judgment dated 29.05.2003. Criminal Revision was filed in the High Court challenging the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge which Criminal Revision petition has been dismissed by the High Court the impugned judgment dated 01.09.2015.

It was contended by the Appellant that he is the sole bread owner of his poor family consisting of 4 children and his wife. Also, it was submitted that if the appellant is sent to jail for more than 21 years, his family will suffer irreparable injury.

The Appellant relied upon the judgment of Prakash Chandra Agnihotri v. State of MP & A.P. Raju v. the State of Orissa passed by the Supreme court and the Court also supports his submissions.  In the case of Prakash Chandra Agnihotri, the accused was convicted and sentenced to six months under Section 304A. This Court converted the sentence of imprisonment into a fine of Rs.500/-. The Court was of the view that it would be harsh to send 4 the appellant to the Jail after 18 years of the occurrence.

The incident occurred on 16.02.1995 i.e. more than 26 years ago. It appellant was granted bail and The Trial Court after looking into the evidence has convicted them under Section 279, 338 and awarded a sentence of imprisonment of six months, and further sentenced to pay a fine of Rs.500/- under Section 337. The court finds no error in the judgment passed by the Trial court and the conviction was affirmed. However, looking at the facts and circumstances of the present case especially the fact that 26 years have elapsed from the incident, the court decided to substitute the sentence of six months imprisonment under Section 279 and 338 into a fine of Rs.1000/- each.

The Accused was ordered to pay the fine of Rs.1000+1000 i.e. Rs.2000/- within a period of one month in the Trial Court. The judgments of the Courts below are 6 modified to the above extent.

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