Drunken driving has become a menace: SC



New Delhi: Terming drunken driving a "menace" to society, the Supreme Court has said that persons driving vehicles under the influence of alcohol should not get away with minor punishment and fine.

The apex court said the pedestrians are not safe in cities with late night parties followed by drunken driving becoming a way of life among urban elite.

"Drunken driving has become a menace to our society. Everyday drunken driving results in accidents and several human lives are lost, pedestrians in many of our cities are not safe. Late night parties among urban elite have now become a way of life followed by drunken driving," Justice S Radhakrishanan said.

The court's made the critical remarks in its verdict in the infamous BMW hit-and-run case, convicting 34-year-old Nanda under the stringent provision of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for mowing down six people, including three policemen, with his car on Lodhi Raod in South Delhi in 1999.

Justice Radhakrishanan said such incidents are bound to increase as there is no safety for pedestrians on roads.

"Punishment meted out to a drunken driver, is at least a deterrent for other such persons getting away with minor punishment and fine. Such incidents are bound to increase with no safety for pedestrians on the roads," the court said while asking Nanda to pay a fine of Rs fifty lakh and to do community service for two years.

The apex court said alcohol leads to distortion of vision leading to road accidents.

"Alcohol consumption impairs consciousness and vision and it becomes impossible to judge accurately how far away the objects are. When depth perception deteriorates, eye muscles lose their precision causing inability to focus on objects.

"Further, in more unfavourable conditions like fog, mist, rain etc., whether it is night or day, it can reduce the visibility of an object to the point of being below the limit of discernibility. In short, alcohol leads to loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowing down of reflexes and distortion of vision," Justice Radhakrishanan said.

He said hospitals situated near highway should be equipped with all facilities to tackle such emergency situations and to provide immediate medical attention to road mishap victims.

The apex court had yesterday refused to enhance the two-year jail term, already served by Nand, but had convicted him under the stringent provision of 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC, which prescribes maximum punishment of 10 years.

It had partially set aside the Delhi High Court's order, which had held Nanda guilty under lenient provision of 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for rash and negligent driving, but had upheld the two year jail term that was awarded to him.

PTI