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While dismissing the criminal revision plea of a convict who hit a bike in a rash and negligent manner thereby causing the death of two persons, the Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court has in a learned, latest, laudable and landmark judgment titled Devendra Valmiki Vs State of M.P. in Criminal Revision No. 2512/2021 delivered as recently as on November 2021 minced just no words to observe that the court should not award a flea-bite sentence for offence under Section 304-A of IPC by showing undue sympathy. It must be mentioned here that Justice GS Ahluwalia who delivered this learned judgment observed that the convict wasn’t even eligible for a reduction of the jail sentence as two persons lost their lives due to the applicant/convict, who was solely negligent in causing the accident by hitting the motorcycle by coming from the wrong direction. It also must be kept in mind that the Court was dealing with a Criminal Revision filed against the judgment and sentence dated September 15, 2021, passed by First Additional Sessions Judge, Ganjbasoda, Link Court Kurvai, District Vidisha, affirming the judgment and sentence, by which the applicant had been convicted for 279, 338 and 304-A of IPC.

To start with, this commendable, cogent, composed and convincing judgment authored by a single Judge Bench comprising of Justice GS Ahluwalia of Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court sets the ball rolling by first and foremost observing in para 2 that, "This Criminal Revision under Sections 397, 401 of Cr.P.C. has been filed against the judgment and sentence dated 15/9/2021 passed by First Additional Sessions Judge, Ganjbasoda, Link Court Kurvai, District Vidisha in Criminal Appeal No.03/2020, thereby affirming the judgment and sentence dated 18/12/2019 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate First Class, Kurvai, District Vidisha in Regular Criminal Trial No.173/2014, by which the applicant has been convicted for the following offences:-

Conviction U/s 

 Sentence

 Fine

 Default (in lieu of fine)

 279 of IPC

 6 months RI

 500/-

 10 days RI

 338 of IPC

 6 months RI

 500/-

 10 days RI

 304-A of IPC

 1 year RI

 1,000/-

 10 days RI

As we see, the Bench then observes in para 8 that, "The Trial Court by judgment and sentence dated 18/12/2019 convicted and sentenced the applicant for the above-mentioned offences and acquitted the co-accused Rajeev."

As an inevitable fallout, the Bench then brings out in para 9 that, "Being aggrieved by the judgment and sentence passed by the Trial Court, the applicant preferred a Criminal Appeal No.3/2020, which too has been dismissed by judgment dated 15/9/2021 passed by First Additional Sessions Judge, Ganjbasoda, Link Court, Kurvai, District Vidisha."

As it turned out, the Bench then discloses in para 10 that, "Challenging the findings recorded by the Courts below, it is submitted by the counsel for the applicant that four persons, i.e. two male and one woman were riding on a motorcycle alongwith a minor girl and thus, it is clear that they themselves were negligent as only two persons can ride on a motorcycle. It is further submitted that in fact no accident had taken place from the motorcycle of the applicant. The driver of the motorcycle could not control the motorcycle and it slipped, as a result, two persons riding on the said motorcycle died on the spot. It is further submitted that even otherwise, the jail sentence awarded to the applicant may be reduced to the period already undergone by the applicant, as he is in jail from the date of dismissal of his appeal, i.e.15/9/2021."

As against this, the Bench then also discloses in para 11 that, "Per contra, the revision is vehemently opposed by the counsel for the State. It is submitted that the applicant has not pointed out any legal flaw in the judgments passed by the Courts below and this Court in exercise of its revisional powers cannot interfere with the findings of facts unless and until they are perverse or contrary to record."

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 26 that, "The police had prepared the spot map and from the spot map, it appears that the accident took place on the extreme side of the road. Thus, the evidence of the witnesses that the deceased was driving the vehicle on the extreme left side, whereas the applicant hit the motorcycle by coming from the wrong side appears to be correct. Furthermore, the applicant (DW-1) himself has stated that the motorcycle on which the deceased persons and injured Mahendra were riding came from the side of village Bhalbamora and turned towards Mandibamora. It is clear from the spot map, Ex.P/1, that the accident took place on the extreme left side of the road, which is to be used by a motorcyclist, going towards Mandibamora. Thus, according to the applicant himself, the deceased persons were on their left side and since the accident took place on the extreme left side of the road, therefore, it is clear that the applicant was driving the motorcycle in a wrong direction and hit the motorcycle of the deceased Chandrashekhar, while they were on the extreme left side of the road. Thus, it is the applicant who was at fault. Merely because three male persons and one minor girl were riding on the motorcycle, would not give any authority to the applicant to hit the said motorcycle by coming from the wrong direction. Furthermore, the applicant (DW-1) himself has admitted his presence on the spot."

As a corollary, the Bench then enunciates in para 27 that, "Both the Courts below have given concurrent findings of facts about the negligent act of the applicant. Even this Court has also considered the evidence led by the parties and has come to a conclusion that it was the applicant himself, who was driving the offending vehicle and by coming from the wrong side, hit the motorcycle of the deceased, resulting in death of two persons. As the findings of facts recorded by the Courts below cannot be said to be perverse or contrary to record, accordingly, the conviction of the applicant for the offences under Sections 279, 338 and 304-A of IPC is hereby affirmed."

Briefly stated, the gist of para 30 which forms the cornerstone of this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment is this: "In the present case, it has been categorically found that it was the applicant, who hit the motorcycle of the deceased by coming from the wrong side. Two persons have lost their lives and one sustained injuries on his jaw, as a result, he was operated upon. The case laws that have been cited here are : -

  1. State of Punjab Vs Saurabh Bakshi, reported in (2015) 5 SCC 182
  2. State of Madhya Pradesh vs Surendra Singh reported in (2015) 1 SCC 222
  3. State of M.P. v. Bablu [(2014) 9 SCC 281 : (2014) 6 SCC (Cri) 1]
  4. State of Karnataka vs. Sharanappa Basanagouda Aregoudar reported in (2002) 3 SCC 738

Thus the Court should not award flea-bite sentence for offence under Section 304-A of IPC by showing undue sympathy. In the present case, two persons have lost their lives and it was the applicant who was solely negligent in causing accident by hitting the motorcycle by coming from the wrong direction. Accordingly, this Court is of the considered opinion that no case is made out even for reduction of the jail sentence. The Courts below have already adopted a very lenient view in the matter and accordingly, the sentence awarded by the Courts below does not call for any interference."

As a consequence, the Bench then holds in para 31 that, "Accordingly the judgment and sentence dated 15/9/2021 passed by First Additional Sessions Judge, Ganjbasoda, Link Court Kurvai, District Vidisha in Criminal Appeal No.03/2020 and judgment and sentence dated 18/12/2019 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate First Class, Kurvai, District Vidisha in Regular Criminal Trial No.173/2014 are hereby affirmed."

For the sake of clarity, the Bench then specifies in para 32 that, "The applicant is in jail, he shall undergo the remaining jail sentence."

It is worth noting that the Bench then observes in para 33 that, "The Registry is directed to send back the record of the Courts below alongwith a copy of this judgment for necessary information and compliance."

Finally, the Bench then holds in para 34 that, "The revision fails and is hereby dismissed."

In essence, the clear, cogent, commendable and convincing message that this most noteworthy judgment by a single Judge Bench comprising of Justice GS Ahluwalia of Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court sends out is that court shouldn’t award flea-bite sentence for offence under Section 304-A of IPC by showing undue sympathy. Such offences have to be treated with full seriousness and no undue sympathy should be displayed towards those who indulge in them without any convincing reason. It cannot be glossed over that already the punishment prescribed under Section 304-A of IPC is very inadequate and if even that is not imposed, is not a wrong message sent out that it is very easy to get away even after killing anyone? This alone explains why Justice GS Ahluwalia in this extremely learned judgment minces no words to convey very rightly that court shouldn’t award flea-bite sentence for offence under Section 304-A of IPC by showing undue sympathy! No denying it!


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