Govt plans enhancing punishment in DUI cases

The Centre is contemplating enhancing punishment in cases of drunken driving and a proposal to amend sections of the Indian Penal Code is being considered, the Bombay High Court was told on Monday.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is considering amending IPC Sections 304 A (causing death by negligence) and 279 (rash and negligent driving), according to a document placed before a division bench of the Bombay High Court headed by Justice Abhay Oka.

The bench is in the process of hearing a PIL by senior journalist Nikhil Wagle, seeking compensation from Salman Khan for the victims of the 2002 drunken-driving and hit-and-run case involving the actor.

Although 49-year-old Khan had already deposited compensation to be paid to the families of the victims as directed by the Bombay High Court, the petition is still being heard by the bench which has extended its scope to seek enhancement of punishments in accident cases.

The court had earlier suggested the Centre to consider amending IPC Sections so as to make drunken driving a more serious offence. It also asked the Maharashtra government to consider amending Motor Vehicles Act to enhance punishment in such cases.

Jaiprakash Agarwal, Joint Secretary (Home), Union government, stated in his affidavit that the Law Commission had recommended modification of Sections 304 A and 279 IPC to include drunken driving as a serious offence. The process had already begun and it will come up before the cabinet. The maximum punishment for offence under Indian Penal Code(IPC) sections 304 A is two years or fine or both and for Section 279 it is imprisonment for 6 months or fine or both.

The matter has been adjourned to October 19 for further hearing.

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