Supreme Court of India
State Of Himachal Pradesh vs Ram Pal on 27 February, 2015Author: A K Goel

Bench: T.S. Thakur, Adarsh Kumar Goel










1. Leave granted.

2. This appeal has been preferred against judgment and order dated 27th
February, 2013 passed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla in
Criminal Appeal No.406 of 2011.

3. Only question raised for consideration is whether the sentence
imposed in the facts and circumstances is fair and just.

4. On 20th August, 2009 at 5.35 P.M. FIR was lodged by PW 3 Chhering to
the effect that he was a mason in the work of construction of road at
Gulaba near Manali. At 2.30 P.M., a tanker driven by the respondent
accused struck the deceased Sonam a 20 year old girl, which was on account
of rash and negligence driving by the respondent. The injured was taken to
Mission hospital, Manali where she was declared dead on arrival. After
completing the investigation, the accused was sent up for trial.

5. The prosecution examined six witnesses, namely, PW 1 Dr. Balbir
Rawat, PW 2 Budhi Singh, PW 3 Chhering, PW 4 Smt. Seema, PW 5 Sange Sherpa
and PW 6 SI Om Chand. The accused took up the plea that the deceased came
under the rear tyre after a part of the vehicle had already crossed. The
girl had come running and struck against the vehicle and the appellant was
not rash or negligent in driving.

6. The trial Court noted that the vehicle was coming uphill as admitted
by PW 4 Seema. It was also admitted that the girl was struck on the back
side of the vehicle. The vehicle was going uphill on a road, condition of
which was bad. Thus, the vehicle could not be at high speed.

7. On appeal, the view taken by the trial Court was reversed. It was
held that even if the vehicle was going at slow speed and uphill, the
vehicle could have been stopped and its striking to the girl could have
been prevented. Undoubtedly, the death was because of vehicle hitting the
girl which in the circumstances was clear result of rash and negligent act
of driving. Accordingly, the appellate Court convicted the respondent
under Section 279 and 304 A IPC and awarded sentence of imprisonment for
six months and fine of Rs.1000, in default further imprisonment of one
month under Section 304 A IPC and concurrent imprisonment for three months
and fine of Rs.500, in default further imprisonment of fifteen days under
Section 279 IPC.

8. The respondent accused preferred appeal to the High Court. The High
Court noticed the post mortem report to the effect that “the cause of death
of the deceased was crush injury of lumbo-sacral spine and pelvic bone
leading to cardio respiratory arrest”. It was inferred that such injury
could be possible only with rash and negligent driving. However, sentence
of imprisonment was set aside and substituted by fine of Rs.40,000/-, in
default of which sentence awarded by the trial Court was to revive.

9. We have heard learned counsel for the parties.

10. Learned counsel for the State pointed out that it was the duty of
the Court to award just and fair sentence. If a liberal view was taken on
sentence of imprisonment, reasonable amount of compensation was required to
be awarded. On this text, the view taken by the High Court is not
sustainable. The amount of Rs.40,000/- cannot be held to be adequate
compensation when life of a young girl aged 20 years was lost.

11. Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the accused was a
poor man and a driver and could not pay more amount as compensation. He
also submitted that even though it was a case of driving in a difficult
terrain where different parameters ought to be applied for determining

12. We have given our anxious consideration to the rival submissions and
perused the record.

13. It is evident from the facts and circumstances of the case that the
respondent has not called in question his conviction. We have before us
only challenge to the inadequacy of the sentence in the present appeal
filed by the State. Moreover, in an appeal under Article 136 of the
Constitution, this Court does not re-appreciate the evidence, in absence of
perversity or patent legal error, merely because a different view was also
possible. We are thus, not inclined to reopen the correctness of
conviction of the respondent and proceed to consider the question of
adequacy of the sentence. In our view, the sentence of mere fine of
Rs.40,000/- imposed by the High Court is not adequate and proportionate to
the offence. We have been informed that a sum of Rs.3,60,000/- has been
awarded as compensation by the insurance company to the heirs of the
deceased. We are also of the view that where the accused is unable to pay
adequate compensation to the victim or his heir, the Court ought to have
awarded compensation under Section 357A against the State from the funds
available under the Victim Compensation Scheme framed under the said
section. This Court has dealt with the issue in Suresh vs. State of
Haryana[1], Manohar Singh vs. State of Rajasthan & Ors. (Criminal Appeal
No.99 of 2015 decided on 16.1.2015) and State of M.P. vs. Mehtaab (Criminal
Appeal No.290 of 2015 decided on 13.2.2015). Having regard to totality of
circumstances of the present case, we feel that ends of justice will be
served if the accused is required to pay total compensation of Rs.1 lakh
and the State to pay a sum of Rs.3 lakhs.

14. Accordingly, we modify the impugned order passed by the High Court
and enhance the compensation to be paid by the respondent accused to Rs.1
lakh to be paid within four months failing which the sentence awarded by
the Court of Session shall stand revived. In addition, we direct the State
of Himachal Pradesh to pay interim compensation of Rs.3 lakhs. In case the
respondent fails to pay any part of the compensation, that part of
compensation will also be paid by the State so that the heirs of the victim
get total sum of Rs. 4 lakhs towards compensation. The amount already paid
may be adjusted.

15. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.


FEBRUARY 27, 2015
[1] 2015 (2) SCC 227


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