A Mumbai Court recently acquitted a 56-year old woman accused of rash and negligent driving case holding that if any mishap happened due to negligence of the pedestrian no criminal liability can be fixed on the vehicle owner (State of Maharashtra v. Swapnila S Sakhalkar)
Metropolitan Magistrate Pravin P Deshmane stated that "while crossing or walking the road it is the duty of pedestrian to take precaution. If any mishap happened due to negligence of the pedestrian no criminal liability would be fixed on the vehicle." The Prosecution argued that there was evidence to show that the accused was negligent due to which the accident occurred. Advocate Bhushan Deshmukh, representing Sahalkar, opposed the submission arguing that there was no established evidence to hold that the accused was driving a car at a relevant time and there was no evidence at all to show negligence or rashness on the part of the lady driver.
The court came to the conclusion that the complainant failed to specify her exact location on the road and also failed to explain the reason for not using a footpath meant for pedestrians." The evidence of informant is vague and general without specifying the exact causal factor attributing negligence or rashness on the part of the said lady car driver," the Court opined.
The Court also said that had there been independent witnesses, the true facts would have been come on record to attribute not only involvement of accused but also the causal factor of the accident. Perusing the entire evidence the Court opined that "there is nothing trustworthy to fix the involvement of the accused in the alleged accident and no substantial particulars put forth to establish the negligence driving of the alleged vehicle."
If any mishap happened due to negligence of the pedestrian no criminal liability would be fixed on the vehicle. On this aspect, I would like to take valuable guidance from the caselaw of Mahadeo Hari Lokre Vs. State of Maharashtra 1971 STPL (L.E.Crim)20774 SC wherein the Hon'ble Apex Court in its para4 laid down that “If a person suddenly crosses the road, the bus driver, however, slowly he may be driving, may not be in a 29th Court, Dadar Judgment 2900867/PS/2016 CNR NO. MHMM150052312015 position to save the accident.
Therefore, it will not be possible to hold the bus driver was negligent.” Ongoing through the facts of instant case and facts before Hon'ble Apex Court, the factual matrix is the most identical one as in instant case also the informant walked over the portion meant for vehicle and ignoring the footpath for pedestrians. 20. Thus, pursuant to the above reasoning and lacking trustworthy evidence negligence in the instant case also cannot be fastened against the driver of an alleged vehicle involved in an accident.
1) The accused Smt. Swapnila Suhas Sakhalkar, Age: 56 years, is acquitted of the offences punishable under sections 279, 338 of IPC and 134
(a) (b) of the M.V. Act vide Section 255 (1) of Cr.P.C.
2) The accused shall comply with bail under section 437A of the Criminal Procedure Code.