IPC & MV Act Provisions Related To Rash Driving Would Not Apply In Case Of Accidents Involving Pet Animals: Karnataka HC
The Karnataka High Court at Bengaluru Bench while dealing with a Criminal Petition held that Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Section 187 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 would not be attracted in case of any injury or death of a pet animal due to rash driving in a public place.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj held –
"A perusal of the above provision would indicate that the driver of the vehicle is to endanger human life or likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. Though the heading of the Section is rash driving or riding on a public way, the same is only a heading. What is required to be seen is the contents of the provision. The above provision does not recognize and/or make an offence any injury caused otherwise than to human being. Thus, insofar as the injury or death caused to the pet or animal is concerned, the same would not amount to an offence in terms of Section 279 of IPC."
The Court further observed –
"In view of the above discussion and analysis, I am of the considered opinion that it cannot be said that there is any non-compliance with the provision of Clause (a) of Sub Section (1) of Section 132 or Section 133 or Section 134 requiring the applicability of Section 187 of the M.V.Act. Hence, I answer Point No.2 by holding that in the event of an accident involving a pet/animal, Section 187 of M.V.Act would not get attracted."
Advocate M. Shashidhara represented the petitioner and Advocate Anu Chengappa represented the respondent.
Facts of the case -
On 24th February 2018, the respondent's mother had taken her pets for a walk as per her routine and a Fortuner SUV vehicle hit one of the pet dogs. The pet dog was taken to Veterinary Clinic but the dog was declared dead there. The incident took place between 8:15 to 9:00 p.m.
The respondent called the police helpline and they sent two policemen to the spot who verified what had happened. Thereafter, a complaint was registered against the petitioner with Vijayanagara Police Station for offences punishable under Sections 134(A & B) and 187 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and Sections 279, 428, 429 of IPC.
The investigating officer conducted the investigation and filed a charge sheet against the petitioner for the above offences. The petitioner being aggrieved with the same filed a writ petition before the Court for seeking relief and asking to quash the proceedings.
The issues dealt with by the Court were-
1. Whether an offence under Section 134 (A & B) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 would get attracted in the event of an accident involving a pet animal?
2. Whether an offence under Section 187 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 would get attracted in the event of an accident involving a pet animal?
3. Whether an offence under Section 279 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 can be alleged if an injury is caused to an animal while driving the vehicle?
4. For an offence to be alleged under Sections 428 and 429 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, there is an animus and/or intention which is required to be established?
5. Whether there is a requirement of this Court to exercise its powers under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure to quash the proceedings?
The Court while dealing with the aforementioned issues noted –
"In the present case, if the pet/animal is regarded to be a property of a third party, there is no offence as such made out in terms of Section 134 (a) or (b) of M.V.Act as regards the damage to such property of a third party. In view of the above, I am of the considered opinion that the said provision relates only to injury to a person, a dog/animal not being a person would not come within the ambit of Section 134 (a) and (b) of M.V.Act. Hence, I answer point No.1 by holding that the provision of Section 134 (a) or (b) of M.V.Act would not get attracted in the event of an accident involving a pet/animal."
In the same way, the Court held that the other provisions in question before the Court would not get attracted in case of an accident involving a pet or animal.
The Court further held –
"If the submission of Ms. Anu Chengappa is accepted and the word person is interpreted to include an animal, then in the event of a death of a pet or animal, the offence under Section 302 of IPC would also be attracted which would not be the purport and intent of the IPC."
The Court observed –
"Admittedly, the petitioner is not known to the complainant and/or his family members nor that the petitioner has any enmity with the deceased pet dog Memphi. Hence, there cannot be any animus said to be existence in the petitioner to cause the death of the said pet Memphi."
The Court also observed that for an offence under Section 428/429 of IPC, it is required that a mens rea, animus or intention is required to be established which was missing in the present case.
The Court concluded – "… I am of the considered opinion that the continuation of the criminal proceedings would only be an abuse of process of Court and would cause injustice to the petitioner to suffer the ignominy of a criminal trial. Hence, I am of the considered opinion that this is a fit and proper case for exercise of powers under Section 482 of Cr.P.C."
Accordingly, the Court allowed the criminal petition and quashed all the proceedings and orders.
Cause Title - Prathap Kumar G vs State of Karnataka & Ors.