Kerala

HC sets aside 5-year RI for Thattekat boat driver

The Kerala High Court has set aside the five-year rigorous imprisonment awarded to the boat driver in the Thattekkat boat tragedy under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of Indian Penal Code(IPC).

The court, however, found him guilty for rash and negligent driving under Section 304A of the IPC and awarded him a sentence of two-year rigorous imprisonment and imposed on him a fine of ₹1.50 lakhs.

The order came on an appeal filed by P.M. Raju, driver and owner of the boat involved in the tragedy in which 18 persons, including 15 children from St. Antony’s Upper Primary School Elavoor, near Thattekkat, lost their lives in 2007.

The Ernakulam Additional Sessions Court had found him guilty of the offences under Section 304 of the IPC and convicted him.

The order

The High Court while setting aside the conviction under Section 304 observed that knowledge of a mere possibility that an act might cause death was not the knowledge envisaged. The degree of knowledge required to bring an act within the realm of culpable homicide must be a knowledge that was almost on the verge of certainty and not a mere possibility.

It could not be held that the prosecution had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had the knowledge that death of the passengers would occur if the boat ride was taken. Therefore, the accused was entitled to the benefit of the doubt as to the offence under Section 304 of the IPC, it said.

Convicting him for the offence under Section 304A of the IPC, the court said that the accused as an owner and driver of the boat was the person directly in control of the navigation of the boat. He permitted 61 persons to board the boat, knowing fully well that its capacity was only 6 passengers. If the accused permitted 61 persons to board the boat and navigated it through the waters of Periyar river having a depth of more than 6 metres, “it bespeaks of a a rash and negligent act”.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 7:59:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hc-sets-aside-5-year-ri-for-thattekat-boat-driver/article33972493.ece

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