The Telegraph
Friday , June 20 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Driver guilty of road deaths

A minibus driver was on Thursday convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for running over two men on a pavement four years ago.

A city court held Sunil Singh, in his late 20s, guilty.

Magistrate Madhuchanda Bose would pronounce the quantum of punishment on Friday, which could be 10 years in prison.

Singh has been in jail since June 2010. Calcutta police records say this was the first time a rogue driver was in custody till completion of the trial.

In previous cases, two drivers were booked under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. “Both were out on bail,” said a traffic officer. These two were sentenced to several years of imprisonment.

“Thursday’s case was a first because the accused driver faced trial while in judicial custody,” the officer added.

The police used to charge drivers involved in fatal road accidents with Section 304A of the IPC (causing death due to negligence), a bailable offence that carries a maximum punishment of two years in jail.

Five years ago, they started booking offenders under Section 304 of IPC. “But we had to shelve the move because of pressure from labour unions that threatened bus strikes across the state,” said an officer at Lalbazar.

Police sources said Singh was drunk when he ran over people sleeping on a pavement of SN Banerjee Road around 11pm on February 28, 2010.

Soharat Sohani and Ram Chandra Mandal, both in their 50s, died while seven others were injured.

“The accident happened on Holi night. The driver of the bus that plied on the Ruby-Howrah Maidan route had consumed liquor somewhere on the Rashbehari connector. Thereafter, he was on the way to Howrah and lost control of the bus on SN Banerjee Road. The vehicle jumped onto the pavement where many people were sleeping,” an officer said.

Singh had run away after the accident but the police caught him more than four months later in Howrah.

The chargesheet filed by investigating officer Shantanu Majumdar mentions that Singh was driving under the influence. “But it could not be proved medically because Singh was arrested four months after the incident,” said an officer.