Only eye witnesses can prove charges of rash and negligent driving: Madras HC

Only eye witnesses can prove charges of rash and negligent driving: Madras HC

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.

Prior Facts:

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.

Key Features:

  • 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.

Judgement:

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

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Vaibhav Goyal is a 3rd year BA.LLB (H) student of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also basically belongs to the “City Beautiful-Chandigarh”. He had interned and have work experience at various Central and State Government bodies of India including the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi; the Central Information Commission, New Delhi; U.T. Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, etc. His research projects includes the study on the Right to Emergency Services (PSHRC), Resettlement of Migrant People (NHRC), Implications of RTI in Financial Institutions (CIC), etc. His publications involve articles in different fields of law like administrative, jurisprudence, etc. on online journals including the Juscholars Blog, Burnished Law Journal, etc. His research paper on Prison Reform was published in the Panjab University Journal and his paper was selected in category of best abstract on the topic of Naxalism: A State of Lawlessness and Arbitrariness. He had scored well in various competitions of law consisting of Quiz, Essay Writing, Lecture, Declamation, etc. He had also participated in various conferences including the World Law Forum Conference on Strategic Lawsuits on Public Participation held in New Delhi on Oct 20, 2018 and the National Law Conclave 2020 held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Jan 11, 2020.