The Single Judge Bench of the High Court comprising of Justice Sanjeev Kumar has observed that registration of FIR and presenting a police challan against the deceased is sheer wastage of public time.
In motor vehicular accident where the driver himself dies because of his own act of rash and negligent driving, he cannot be made accused nor his such rash and negligent act could be made subject matter of investigation by registering FIR. It is a different matter where the cause of death of a person is not known and inquest proceedings to find out the cause of death are initiated by the police in terms of Section 174 CRPC, the Court observed.
Facts in Brief:
The deceased husband of the petitioner while driving his tractor met with an accident which resulted into his death. The respondent no. 2 upon receiving the information registered an FIR under Section 279/304-A RPC and entrusted the matter to the IO for investigation.
On completion of investigation, the Investigating Officer found the deceased, prima facie, guilty of rash and negligent driving resulting in his own death. He, therefore, presented a challan against the deceased under Section 279/304- A RPC before the Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Bhaderwah. The challan was, however, dismissed by the learned Magistrate on the ground that no criminal challan can proceed against the deceased.
However, the petitioner call in question the registration of FIR against the deceased which resulted in finding that the deceased husband of the petitioner is guilty of commission of offence under Section 279/304-A RPC.
She is also aggrieved of the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Bhaderwah dismissing the challan simply on the ground that same could not proceed against the deceased person rather than holding registration of the FIR without jurisdiction and beyond the powers of the police.
Submissions of the Petitioner:
Mr. Jagpaul Singh, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that no FIR under Section 154 Cr.P.C. can be registered against a dead person nor any investigation can be set in motion against the deceased. He further submitted that commission of cognizable offence is sine qua non for registration of the FIR and in a case of motor vehicular accident, which has resulted into death of the driver without there being any negligence on the part of any third person, the offence under Section 279 or 304-A RPC are not made out.
Observations of the Court:
The Court after referring to Section 154 CRPC and Sections 279, 304-A RPC observed thus:
5. Insofar as Section 279 RPC is concerned, it pertains to rash driving or riding on public way and lays down that if a person drives any vehicle or rides on any public way in a rash and negligent manner as would have the potential to endanger human life or is likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person, shall be guilty of commission of offence under Section 279 RPC.
The Court after perusing the contents FIR observed that the deceased was driving his tractor in his own fields and not on any public way nor the driving of the tractor had the potential of endangering any human life or causing hurt or injury to any other person. Similarly, as is clear from a bare reading of Section 304-A, if a person causes death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide would be guilty of commission of offence under Section 304-A RPC.
Assuming that deceased was driving the tractor in a rash and negligent manner but in doing so he did not cause death of any person. Needless to say, that the term “any person” used in Section 304-A refers to a person other than the accused.
In the instant case, it was the deceased, accused in the FIR, who died of his own. Whether or not it was a rash or negligent act may not be relevant for our purposes. It is, thus, a foregone conclusion that in a motor vehicular accident where the driver himself dies because of his own act of rash and negligent driving, he cannot be made accused nor his such rash and negligent act could be made subject matter of investigation by registering FIR.
It would, therefore, not be wrong to hold that no criminal case can be registered against a dead nor any investigation can be embarked upon by registering an FIR. It is a different matter where the cause of death of a person is not known and inquest proceedings to find out the cause of death are initiated by the police in terms of Section 174 Cr.P.C.
The Court also said that it has considered the issue only to provide guidelines to the police as to how they should act in such circumstances. The Registration of FIR against the deceased, embarking upon the investigation and then presenting a police challan against the dead before the Judicial Magistrate is nothing but a sheer wastage of public time. The police could utilize this time for some better cause.
In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, the Court disposed of the petition by holding that registration of the FIR, investigation taken thereon and presentation of the challan against a dead person i.e. husband of petitioner was nullity and non-est in the eye of law and, therefore, of no consequence.