When a Delhi judge sentenced the son of a Haryana-based industrialist to two years’ imprisonment on Saturday for mowing down a motorcyclist with his luxury car in 2008, he couldn’t help but observe how present-day laws provide more stringent punishment to perpetrators of cattle-related crimes than errant drivers who take human lives.
“The sentence for killing cow is five, seven or 14 years in different states, but the sentence for causing the death of a human being through rash or negligent driving is only two years,” additional sessions judge Sanjeev Kumar said.
The court held the accused, 30-year-old Utsav Bhasin, guilty of rash driving, voluntarily causing hurt on provocation and causing death by negligence. It also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh for the injured.
On the night of September 11, 2008, Bhasin – then a BBA student – had crushed Anuj Chauhan and his friend, Mrigank Srivastava, under his BMW car at Moolchand in South Delhi. While Chauhan died in a city hospital, Srivastava survived the accident. Bhasin was arrested from ISBT Kashmere Gate while he was fleeing to Chandigarh.
Though the court had passed the verdict in May, the quantum of punishment was pronounced only on Saturday. It also granted statutory bail to Bhasin, enabling him to file an appeal in the high court. The bail bond was fixed at Rs 50,000 with surety of a similar amount.
Bhasin was earlier cleared of culpable homicide, which provides for a maximum jail term of up to 10 years.
The court said a copy of the judgment must be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, so he can consider steps to enhance the punishment prescribed for such offences under section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code. The judge also quoted a song from the movie Jindagi aur Toofan – which goes ‘Aadmi chahe toh taqdeer badal sakte hai, poori duniya ki woh tasveer badal sakte hai, aadmi soch toh le uska irada kya hai (Humankind can change its fate if it wants to, can change the entire picture of the world if it wants to, as long as there is a strong resolve to do so)’ – to buttress his point.
The court noted that India has a “disreputable record of road accidents”, with a total of 4.64 lakh road accidents being reported in 2015 alone.