Delhi court harsh on drunk drivers

New Delhi: Coming down heavily on drunken drivers, a Delhi court has advised harsh sentences to the guilty saying it would not be possible for the city traffic police alone to curb the menace.

The sessions court`s observations came while upholding the 10-day jail term awarded to a man, who was caught driving his vehicle in an inebriated condition.

"Until and unless the judicial courts rise to the occasion and as per intent of our Parliament, start handing over harsher sentences to convicts of drunken driving, it would not be possible for Delhi Traffic Police alone to single handedly contain the menace of drunken driving," Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) S S Rathi said.

The court, while refusing to show leniency to convict Dinesh Kumar, a south Delhi resident, said the Supreme Court has also ruled that a fatal accident by a drunken driver invokes jail term up to 10 years.

"Owing to increasing instances of drunken driving and fatal accidents even the Supreme Court has ruled that a fatal accident by a drunken driver invokes offence under section 304 Part II (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC punishable with up to 10 years rigorous imprisonment and not Section 304A of the IPC," the judge said.

Kumar had approached the sessions court challenging the order of a magistrate, who had awarded him 10 days of jail sentence along with a fine of Rs 2,000. He was caught driving his car in an inebriated state in central Delhi area on January 1, 2012. The convict, however, had pleaded guilty before the magistrate.

The court said though the 10-day jail term deserves to be enhanced but it cannot be done so as the state has not appealed against the order of the magistrate to increase the sentence.

Kumar`s counsel said the order of magisterial court on the sentence was on the harsher side and that the convict deserves to have been let off with only fine.

While dismissing Kumar`s appeal, the court said, "It goes without saying that roads of Delhi are one of the most dangerous stretches ever known. Courtesy people like convict (Kumar) who have worked tirelessly to help Delhi roads gain this notoriety".

The judge said as undue leniency on drunken driving is being shown by the magisterial courts, this offence has become a menace in the city.

"In Delhi, either a drunken driver is not caught and if caught they try every measure known in the world to avoid getting challaned. Still, even if challaned they try to get off with a trivial fine. Even if a magistrate endeavours to announce a jail term, every effort is made by the convict in the appellate court to escape the jail term."