SC imposes six months of imprisonment in accidental death involving a two-wheeler

Published On: May 29, 2023 10:00 AM NPT By: Bhasa Sharma

KATHMANDU, May 28: The Supreme Court has ruled that six months imprisonment will be imposed in the case if someone who doesn't have a driver’s license kills a person in a motorcycle accident. The Supreme Court has interpreted the two-wheeler accident in a different way and decided to imprison the driver if one does not have a driving license.

A full bench of Justices Bishowambhar Prasad Shrestha, Prakash Man Singh Raut, Sushma Lata Mathema, Kumar Regmi, Manoj Kumar Sharma issued the verdict  in the case of a 10-year-old traffic accident. The court has explained in the judgment that driving two-wheelers and four-wheelers should not be held under the same responsibility and liability.

The Supreme Court recently released the full text of the verdict issued on March 2, 2023. A different interpretation was given in the case of a personal two-wheeler being driven cautiously and resulting in an accident and death despite not having a driver's license.

In the year 2013, Deepak Tamang, who did not have a driver's license, killed a pedestrian, Ram Prasad Kumal, in  Bidur of Nuwakot district. In the same case, the Nuwakot District Court on January 29, 2014 and the then Appellate Court of Patan in 2015 decided to imprison Tamang for six months and to fine him Rs 2,000. The Supreme Court overturned the verdict and decided to imprison him for only six months.

"The fact that he does not have a driver's license does not automatically mean that he was driving negligently," the Supreme Court said, “It seems that the accident occurred all of a sudden when the person was driving the motorcycle carefully, following all the rules, instead of driving negligently or intentionally even though he did not have a driving license.”

“The court explained that legal provisions should be interpreted and used so that both the victim and the accused get justice through the application of the law. The purpose of justice is to punish the perpetrator according to the nature of the crime. “If it is absolutely necessary to drive a two-wheeler and a person dies due to an accident other than the driver's fault, it should be punished in a fair manner using judges’ discretion,” SC said.

The Supreme Court has explained that the case cannot be considered as negligence because the motorcyclist did not drive at high speed, obeyed the traffic rules, the motorcyclist himself came to his senses two days after the accident, and did not take drugs or alcohol. 

"In the case of two-wheelers, it seems that it is justifiable to evaluate the circumstances of the accident in exceptional cases."

However, the court was clear that drivers should mandatorily have a driving license for driving a vehicle.

The court has explained that there should be different criteria to evaluate the accident that occurs when two-wheelers are driven carefully out of necessity and the accident that occurs while driving a heavy vehicle.

About the incident

It is an incident that took place in Bidur, Nuwakot on December 26, 2012. Ram Prasad Kumal of Bidur-4 was killed on the road by a motorcycle with registration number Ba 10 Pa 8251 heading towards Galchi from Battar. The motorcycle was driven by Deepak Tamang of Bidur-8. Rajkumar Kumal (brother of the deceased) filed a complaint on December 26, demanding the arrest of the motorcyclist and action against him. Motorcyclist Tamang did not have a driver's license. Section 45 of the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act 1993 (2049 BS) states that no person shall drive any vehicle without obtaining a driver's license.

The Supreme Court has rejected the principle that a person without a driver's license should automatically be considered negligent in the event of a collision or the death of a person while driving on a public road.

In the year 2013, the Nuwakot District Court under Section 161(3) of the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Management Act 2049 BS slapped five months of imprisonment and imposed an additional fine of  Rs 2,000 on Tamang for violating Section 161(3) of driving a vehicle without obtaining a driver's license. 

The then Appellate Court Patan upheld the District Court’s decision but the Supreme Court made slight changes to the decision of the lower courts and ordered a jail sentence of six months instead of five months while waiving the fine of  Rs 2000. The SC noted that since the convict had already served five months of jail term, it ordered the District Court to make an amendment to its decision and hold the guilty accountable for the remaining jail term.

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