After 26 years, Kerala bus driver gets relief from SC

The Kozhikode native, who fought a 6-month prison term for rash driving, was finally let off by top court with a ₹2,000 fine

Published - July 03, 2021 06:54 pm IST - NEW DELHI

File photo of the Supreme Court of India.

File photo of the Supreme Court of India.

A bus driver, who fought 26 years a six-month prison term for rash driving, was finally let off by the Supreme Court with a ₹2,000 fine.

A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan agreed with Surendran, a native of Kozhikode district of Kerala, that sending him to jail now would only accomplish leaving his wife and four children in penury.

“Looking to the facts and circumstances of the present case specially the fact that 26 years have elapsed from the incident, we are inclined to substitute the sentence of six months imprisonment,” Justice Bhushan held in a recent judgment.

The court directed Surendran, represented by advocate P.A. Noor Muhammed, to pay the fine within a month.

The 1995 incident

Trouble began for Surendran when his bus hit a car, in injuring its driver, in February 1995.

Four years later, in 1999, the local magistrate sentenced him to six months of imprisonment and a fine of ₹ 500. The Sessions Court dismissed Surendran’s appeal in 2003. The High Court too did not find any reason to intervene with the verdict in 2015. He did not lose hope and appealed to the top court, which issued notice in August 2016.

After a gap of nearly five years and with no one appearing on the other side for the prosecution, the court acknowledged Surendran’s case that sending the sole breadwinner to jail after over two decades of the incident would cause “irreparable injury”. It said, “It would be too harsh”.

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