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case analysis of rattan singh vs. state of punjab

 Rattan Singh vs. State of Punjab (1979) SCC (4) 713


Petitioner: Rattan Singh

Respondent: State of Punjab 

Bench: Krishna Iyer, V.R. 

             Shingal, P.N. 

Citation: 1. 1980 AIR 84

                2. 1980 SCR (1) 846

                3. 1979 SCC (4) 719

In this case Mr. Rattan Singh, a driver, of heavy automobiles was sentenced to two years of imprisonment under section 304A of IPC for Rash and Negligent Driving for killing a scooterist by his rash and negligent driving. 

Facts of the case:

  1. The law under section 304A and under the rubric of negligence must have regard to the fatal frequency of rash driving of heavy duty vehicles and of speeding menace.

  2. Whether the sentence was excessive. 

  3. The petitioner appealed that someone else was responsible for the accident, but the request was rejected and is proven guilty. 

  4. Rashness and negligence are relative concepts, not absolute abstractions. 

  5. Here, role of  “res ispa loquitor” with care applies, it means that “the things speaks for itself”

Verdict of the case:

It was held that he is punishable for imprisonment of two years under section 304A of IPC.

Rashness and negligence are the relative concepts, not absolute abstractions. When a life has been lost and the circumstances of driving are harsh, no compassion can be shown. 

  • Sentencing must have a policy of correction. When the punishment is for driving offence, the state should attach a course for better driving together with sense of responsibility especially in the case of men in poor families, the state may consider occasional parole and reformatory course. 

  • Victim reparation is still the vanishing point of criminal law. The victims of the crime, and the distress of the prisoner, do not attract the attention of the law. The deficiency in the system must be rectified by the legislature. 


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