The Karnataka High Court has ruled that Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code relating to reckless driving will not be attracted in cases of accidents involving a dog/pet.

One judge from the bench Judge Suraj Govindaraj It also held that such accidents would also not attract liability under Articles 134 and 187 of the Motor Vehicles Act which relate to “the duty of the driver in the event of an accident and injury to a person” and “the punishment for offenses related to the accident” respectively.

The court refused to read the word “person” used in these judgments to include “animals” and held that the penal provisions should be taken “in the literal sense” of them. Unlike that, “In the event of the death of a pet or animal, the offense will also be attracted under Section 302 of the IPC“.

The court was hearing a cassation petition filed by a Prathap Kuimar G. who was booked under Sections 134(a and b) and 187 of the MV Act and Sections 279, 428 and 429 of the IPC, after the SUV he was driving collided with the complainant. Pet dog, which led to his demise.

The complainant’s counsel relied on the decision of the Supreme Court of Animal Welfare Council of India Vs A Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547, to argue that no creature is superior to any human and that animals are to be treated equally and that even animals have a right to life.

However, the court was of the opinion that the above ruling was in the context of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and could not be drawn to Section 279 IPC. “If a crime by its nature involves a penalty unless the judgment considers a particular act a crime, then no explanation can be given to make an act not considered an offense under the said provision,” He Said.

Likewise, the Board held that Section 134(a) and (b) of the MVAct speak only of securing medical care for an injured person. In the present case, if the pet/animal is considered the property of a third party, there is no contravention as such pursuant to Section 134(a) or (b) of the MVAact with respect to damage to such third party property.

She added, “The said provision relates only to an injury to a person, a dog/animal that is not a person would not fall within the scope of Section 134(a) and (b) of the MVAct.

Furthermore, a seat held in the event of an accident involving a pet/animal, Section 187 of the MV Act will also not be attracted.

As far as the application of IPC Sections 428 and 429 is concerned, the Board said they are mentioned under Chapter 17 relating to ‘crimes against property’ and fall under the subheading relating to ‘harm’. He noted that if A.Nagaraja’s case was applied to an offense under Section 428 or Section 429 of the IPC, which deals more with damage to property than animals, then there is no provision similar to Section 304A of the IPC available under Chapter 17 more than that under subchapter of Harm related to causing the death of an animal by negligence.

Then I noticed,

In the absence of such a classification and/or such an offense being classed, it is my considered opinion that the general principles of criminal law which are applicable to any offense under the IPC and to an offense under Section 428 or 429 of the IPC to be adhered to must There is a “criminal intent” that is required to be proven. Without these “intentional means” or in the absence of hostility to the commission of a crime, an offense cannot be said to have occurred under Section 428 or Section 429 of the IPC.

Furthermore, the Board admitted admittedly, the Complainant is unknown to the Complainant and/or his family nor that the Petitioner had any enmity with the deceased pet dog Muffy. Hence, there can be no hostility in the petitioner to cause the death of said pet.

I have a considered opinion that just knowing that it is likely to cause an accident is not enough. There must be an intent to cause wrongful loss or damage. The same has not been proven exfacie, I am of the considered opinion that no offense under section 428 and section 429 of the IPC can be said,The court said.

Accordingly, it dismissed the case against the petitioner.

Case Title: PRATHAP KUMAR.G v. Karnataka

Case No.: Criminal Petition No. 1133 of 2019

Quote: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 433

Order date: October 21, 2022

Appearance: m. Shashidara, the petitioner’s attorney. Mahesh Shetty, HCGP for R1; P. ANU CHENGAPPA, R2 advocate.

Click here to read/download the application

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