FPJ Legal: Slow but reckless driving may be deemed negligent, observes Kerala High Court

FPJ BureauUpdated: Saturday, December 11, 2021, 11:38 PM IST
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Kerala High court | Photo Credit: ANI

The Kerala High Court on Friday held that driving vehicle in a reckless and negligent manner, even if it is done at a low speed, would still amount to 'rash and negligent driving' under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, reports Bar and Bench.

A Division Bench held so in a matter taken up by the court suo motu on the basis of reports from a Sabarimala devotee that rash and negligent driving of tractors used along the trekking path, was threatening the safety of the pilgrims.

The court placed reliance on a Supreme Court judgement wherein it was held that rash and negligent driving has to be examined in the light of the facts and circumstances of a given case. Going by the said decision, the court held that if a person is driving quite slowly but recklessly, it could still amount to 'rash and negligent driving' as per Section 279 of the IPC.

"A person who drives a vehicle on the road is liable to be held responsible for the act as well as for the result. It may not be always possible to determine with reference to the speed of a vehicle whether a person was driving rashly and negligently. Both these acts presuppose an abnormal conduct. Even when one is driving a vehicle at a slow speed but recklessly and negligently, it would amount to 'rash and negligent driving' within the meaning of the language of Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860," the Court said.

Moreover, the court noted that the doctrine of reasonable care imposes an obligation or a duty upon a person (for example a driver) to care for pedestrians on the road and this duty attains a higher degree when the pedestrian happens to be a child of tender age.

"It is axiomatic to say that while driving a vehicle on a public way, there is an implicit duty cast on the drivers to see that their driving does not endanger the life of the right users of the road, may be either vehicular users or pedestrians. They are expected to take sufficient care to avoid danger to others," the court underscored.

In the instant case, the court directed the Deputy Superintendent of Police and Station House Officer to take necessary steps to ensure that the movement of tractors through the trekking path, even in case of emergency, does not pose any threat to the safety of pilgrims.

The counsel for the State gave an undertaking regarding the same to ensure that there is no threat to the safety of the pilgrims and that the movement of tractors through the trekking path will be done with the least possible inconvenience to devotees.

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