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HC endorses provision of higher punishment for drunk driving

The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Union Government to consider amending section 279 of the Indian Penal Code (rash and negligent driving) and enhance the existing punishment (two years’ jail term) for drunk driving.

The division bench of Abhay Oka and AS Chandurkar were hearing a public interest litigation filed by journalist Nikhil Wagle, seeking compensation from Bollywood superstar Salman Khan for the victims of the 2002 hit-and-run case involving the actor.

The High Court suggested that IPC sections 304 A (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 279 should be amended to include a specific offence of drunk driving.

The Central government’s lawyer said it was considering amendment of section 304 A. As to section 279, it had sought the views of the state governments.

The judges said that both the sections should be amended.

Jaiprakash Agarwal, Joint Secretary (Home), Union Government, stated in his affidavit that the Law Commission had recommended modification of sections 304 A and 279 to include drunk driving as a serious offence. The process had already begun and it will come up before the cabinet.

The Centre had sought the views of the state governments and union territories on amending section 279, however, Maharashtra had not responded so far, the affidavit said.

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