Justice K Ravichandrabaabu said that only eye-witnesses can prove charges of rash and negligent driving, without any such witnesses, such charge would not hold good. The Madras High Court made the observation while dismissing an appeal moved by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) against the order of a labour court in November, 2013, directing it to pay Rs two lakh as compensation to kin of a driver, who was wrongly terminated by the corporation.
G Gopal (now deceased), was working as a driver for the corporation’s Villupuram division. On February 14, 1999, a bus driven by Gopal met with an accident in which three people died. According to Gopal, the accident was not due to his negligence or rash driving, but due to the fact that the vehicle was not properly maintained. However, the management terminated Gopal from service. Aggrieved, Gopal moved the labour court challenging his dismissal, which directed the corporation to pay Rs 2 lakh as compensation to Gopal’s kin as no eyewitness were examined to substantiate the charges levelled against him. TNSTC moved the present appeal challenging the same.
- The main contention of Gopal was that the accident wasn’t by mistake of his mistake of rash and negligent driving.
- He contended the accident was caused by the mistake of the corporation due to non-maintenance of the vehicles by them.
- Although, the management conducted an internal inquiry but it wasn’t proved fruitful.
- As, Gopal died duing the proceedings in the labour court, the labour court directed the compensation to his family.
Rejecting the appeal, Justice Ravichandrabaabu said: “The right persons to speak about the accident are the eyewitness.” No eyewitness was examined in this case, he pointed out, adding: “The labour court was right in concluding that the dismissal of the deceased is not just.” Only those persons will be in a position to speak as to whether the deceased was driving the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner.” The judge further said admittedly, no such eye-witness was examined in this case, adding the management, while conducting the independent domestic inquiry, is not justified in simply relying on the FIR alone, without examining the eye witnesses. He said therefore the labour court was right in coming to the conclusion that the dismissal of the deceased from service is not just and proper.
Point still to be answered:
What if no eyewitness comes forward to appear in court or he is threatened by the transport corporation staff, will the court allow the driver to escape prosecution?
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje