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Even minor mishap caused by drunken driving should not be treated leniently: Supreme Court

Picture used for representational purposes only. File

Picture used for representational purposes only. File

Drunken driving cannot be treated leniently even if the accident turned out to be a minor one, the Supreme Court has said in a judgment.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is an offence. It amounts to playing with the lives of others, a Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna observed in a recent verdict.

The case concerned a truck driver with the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) who rammed into a jeep while ferrying personnel to Allahabad on Kumbh Mela duty in February 2000. He was found to have been drunk while driving the truck.

The man was subsequently dismissed from service. His plea that the punishment was disproportionate to his deed was rejected by the lower courts.

Dealing with his appeal, Justice Shah agreed that, “Merely because there was no major loss and it was a minor accident cannot be a ground to show leniency. It was sheer good luck that the accident was not a fatal accident. It could have been a fatal accident.”

"When the employee was driving a truck carrying the PAC personnel, the lives of those PAC personnel who were travelling in the truck were in the hands of the driver. Therefore, it can be said that he played with the lives of those PAC personnel, who were on duty and travelling from Fatehpur to Allahabad on Kumbh Mela duty," the court observed.

However, the court reduced the dismissal to compulsory retirement. On learning that the man had died in the course of his 21-year-old legal battle, the Bench ordered the authorities to pay his family pension and retirement benefits to his kin.


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Printable version | May 14, 2022 5:21:15 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/even-minor-mishap-caused-by-drunken-driving-should-not-be-treated-leniently-supreme-court/article38329989.ece