Hit-And-Run Cases Killed 4 People Every Hour in 2022: Crash Course on New Law And Truckers’ Strike

A new law, that is yet to be implemented, will enhance the punishment related to hit-and-run cases by up to 10 years from two years currently. The move has alarmed truck and commercial vehicle drivers as they are holding protests in several parts of the country.

The Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, which was passed by Parliament last month and is yet to be implemented, has enhanced the jail term for hit-and-run cases, to punish drivers who flee accident spots and do not inform the police. It says that there will be a punishment of up to 10 years in prison for drivers who cause serious road accidents by negligent driving and escape without alerting the police or any official from the administration. It will also be a non-bailable offence.

The new rules, that will replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code, however, offer some relief in case the victim is taken to a hospital or the police called. The punishment in case of involving the authorities will be up to five years and bail may be allowed.

Currently, hit-and-run accidents are considered under section 304A of the IPC. They attract a jail term of up to two years and a fine.

Why such a law is important

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2022, a total of 47,806 incidents of hit-and-run in India killed 50,815 people. That means, nearly six people were killed in hit-and-run cases every hour and 140 lost their lives per day. In 2021, there were 47,530 incidents that killed 43,499 people.

As per the government’s annual ‘Road Accidents in India’ report in 2022, there were 67,387 incidents of hit-and-run that killed 30,486 people. That means nearly 85 people were killed daily in such cases while four people died per hour. In 2021, a total of 25,938 people died in 57,415 hit-and-run cases.

Speaking to News18, a ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) official said that strict rules were needed to check the rise in hit-and-run cases.

“With a strict law in force, drivers will be careful. Further, even if there is an accident, the victim will get timely help under the new law because of the lesser punishment for that category. The idea is that if you have caused damage to an individual unintentionally, it is your duty to help the victim,” the official said. “They should not be left on the road to die.”

The official went on to say that there has been a long-pending demand for strict punishment for hit-and-run cases and even the Supreme Court has stated that strict action is needed in such incidents.

What Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita says

Counted in culpable homicide, the cases of hit-and-run will be considered under two sections – 106(1) which provides for a punishment of up to five years, and 106(2) with a provision for punishment of up to 10 years.

The rule says that if drivers immediately report such accidents to a police officer or magistrate, they will be charged under 106(1), where the sentence is lesser.

The sub-section 106(2) provides for a sentence of up to 10 years and is for those who leave the victim unattended to die on the road.

Why truckers are protesting

Speaking to News18, trucker Rajnish Gurjar said that they are protesting because of the general perception that it is always the drivers’ fault.

“We are poor drivers and most of us are the sole earners of our families. If there is an accident, it is by default considered that the biggest vehicles are to blame. So usually it will be the truck driver’s fault even if it is someone else’s mistake. Stopping to help the victim means further harassment by not just the police but the public as well,” he said.

Another driver, 39-year-old Bullu Yadav, said that they are just doing their job and their intention certainly is not to kill someone.

“It is our job to drive. We are not stepping out of the house to kill people on the road. But it is a general belief that we are the ones who drive recklessly while the fact is that our vehicle is not as flexible as smaller ones,” he told News18.

While the new law is yet to be implemented, the drivers want the government to reconsider it.

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