Keeping in mind the Supreme Court's concerns, the Centre has initiated a move to amend the Indian Penal Code to provide for more stringent punishment to those inflicting deaths in road rage and accidents.

The court recently expressed displeasure at the failure of the legislature to enact stringent laws to deter fatal accidents that made innocent people pay the price for the risks taken by others. Road accidents claim a life every four minutes in India.

The court decreed that fatal accidents caused by drunken driving be punished with prison terms of up to 10 years and the offenders should not be let off with light sentences.

Now the law provides for a maximum of five-year imprisonment for road offenders inflicting death, that is when the matter is reported. Most cases are still settled out of court.

So the Home Ministry is working on an entire gamut of issues of rash and drunken driving and road rage to provide for stringent punishment that would instil a sense of fear in people behind the wheel and effect a change in their behaviour.

The initiative has been taken also in light of the fact that the police could do little to book such offenders who use their clout to circumvent the law.

Law panel suggestions

The Law Commission too has recommended amendments to the IPC, stating the maximum punishment under Section 304(A) is not an adequate deterrent and prescribed that it be doubled to 10-year jail, and that the offence be made non-bailable.

The minimum punishment for causing death under the influence of liquor should be two years' imprisonment.

To protect the pedestrians' equal rights to road, the commission has called for Central legislation to regulate traffic by amending the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. It has suggested installation of CCTVs to track offences and offenders.