The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Drive in haste, kill at will
Noose too loose: Cops

Twenty-eight-year-old Sanjay Mandal left his Girish Park shanty with his handcart, like any other morning on Monday, to earn the daily bread for his four-member family. As soon as he turned into CR Avenue, a speeding lorry heading towards Shyambazar crushed him under its wheels.

Mandal died on the spot, yet another victim of reckless driving on the streets of Calcutta. No traffic policeman was in sight to trace the killer vehicle on Monday morning. But even if there had been, and the driver was intercepted and arrested, what would have been achieved'

Police would book him under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Motor Vehicles Act applicable in such cases of accidents, all of which are bailable (see graphic). At the trial, if the charges were successfully established in court, the driver would have to pay a fine ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000.

The cost of a life couldn't come cheaper as errant drivers slip merrily through the twin tracks of cop callousness and law loopholes.

Police are quick to blame it on the lack of punitive measures. 'There are no tough sections under which errant drivers can be taught a lesson. They are aware of it and take full advantage,' rues an officer of the traffic department.

He elaborates: 'Section 279 of IPC or 184 of MV Act. Section 304A of IPC is applicable for a case in which the driver has been found responsible for the death of a person. But both sections are bailable and the driver walks free a few hours after arrest.'

In a bid to tighten the noose on rogue drivers, ex-police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty had recommended to the government that both sections (279 and 304A) be made non-bailable and a two-year imprisonment term be slapped for rash driving and seven years for causing death by negligence.

The file is gathering dust in the traffic department.

The traffic department, meanwhile, has submitted a proposal to at least increase the penalty. 'If a driver is booked for rash driving now, he has to pay a penalty of Rs 1,500. That is no deterrent; the amount should be doubled immediately,' said an official of the traffic department.

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