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All road accidents not example of rash driving: Court

The court also held that Test Identification Parade (TIP) can only be used for the purpose of corroboration and not as substantive evidence.

Updated:October 24, 2014, 4:54 PM IST
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All road accidents not example of rash driving: Court
The court also held that Test Identification Parade (TIP) can only be used for the purpose of corroboration and not as substantive evidence.

New Delhi: A Delhi court has acquitted a tractor driver in a road mishap case in which a scooter rider had died, saying "all accidents are not example of rash or negligent driving" and an adverse presumption cannot be raised against the driver of bigger vehicle.

The court also held that Test Identification Parade (TIP), a legal process when victim or witness identifies the accused in police custody or in jail, can only be used for the purpose of corroboration and not as substantive evidence.

Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala allowed an appeal filed by Uttar Pradesh resident Ajay Pal against his conviction and sentence order passed by a trial court saying that a "criminal trial court cannot raise presumption of guilt merely on the basis of unfounded presumption."

"One should not forget that all accidents are not example of rash or negligent driving. Therefore, just because in this accident a person had died, an adverse presumption cannot be raised against the driver of bigger vehicle to the effect that he had caused this accident by driving in rash or negligent manner," the judge said.

The court observed that no incriminating evidence was found which show that Pal was driving the offending tractor at the time of accident as eye witnesses have denied having seen him driving the offending vehicle.

"Accused was not under duty to take any plea to show his innocence, until unless there was some incriminating evidence against him so as to seek an explanation from him. There was no incriminating evidence to show that he was driving the offending tractor," the court said.

Noting that mere refusal to undergo TIP by the accused cannot lead to the presumption that he was driving the vehicle, the court said the proceeding is though admissible in evidence, it is not a piece of substantive evidence.

"TIP can, at the most, be used for the purpose of corroboration. In the present case, the trial court relied upon this piece of evidence as substantive evidence, which is not permissible. TIP proceedings was useless evidence in absence of substantive evidence before the court, which could establish identity of driver of the tractor," the judge said.

The court also termed as illegal the conviction of Pal under additional charges for not possessing driving licence and driving a vehicle which was not insured, framed at the time of final argument in 2014.

"The time period to take cognisance of any offences was three years from the date of offence August 3, 2003. Therefore, the trial court was not justified in taking cognisance of offence after lapse of this limitation period, that too without giving any notice to the accused to condone the delay," it said.

The court thereafter set aside the order of trial court against the conviction and sentence of Pal and allowed his appeal against the order. The court also recommended the Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA) to enquire into the quantum of compensation to be awarded to the legal heirs of the deceased scooter rider Deepak Sharma.

According to prosecution, on August 3, 2003 at about 2.15 PM, a tractor with trolly having registration number of Uttar Pradesh hit Sharma from behind which led to his death. The driver of the tractor did not stop the vehicle but later on left the vehicle and fled.

On August 5, 2003, the accused surrendered before the court and he was arrested and was booked for rash and negligent driving and causing death by negligence.

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