Moral turpitude without mens rea justified in holding driver guilty of offence: Punjab High Court.

The Punjab High Court, in Darshan Singh v/s State of Punjab and others CWP-627 of 2017 (O&M), delivered on 14th March 2023, held that driver could be held for moral turpitude in road accidents even in the absence of mens rea. The judgement was presided by Honorable Mr. Justice Anil Kshetarpal.


A writ order by the petitioner was filed which challenged the order issued by the Director of State Transport in 2016. The driver was convicted for causing death by negligence in a road accident case, under section 304-A IPC, with six months imprisonment. The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal and the Criminal Court found the petitioner guilty of rash and negligent driving. However, the driver had no history of rash or negligent driving prior to this accident.


The Court while examining the case made a point towards the history of the petitioner, with no cases being reported. A reference to Rishi Dev v/s State of Haryana and others wherein it was held that the driver was not entitled to reinstatement on account of rash and negligent driving. The Court also referred to Jarnail Singh v/s State of Punjab and others, where it was held that the order of compulsory/ premature retirement would be held in place of order of dismissal. Thereby, the court modified the petitioner’s dismissal order from service.


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