For the application of this section, it is necessary that death is caused by doing a rash or negligent act and such act must not amount to culpable homicide. Thus, this section shall apply where there is neither any intention to cause death nor knowledge that the act would in all probability cause death. To impose criminal liability under this section it is necessary that the death should have been the direct result of a rash or negligent act of the accused.
Essential ingredients of section 304A are the following:
- Death of a person
- Death was caused by accused during any rash or negligence act.
- Act does not amount to culpable homicide.
And to prove negligence under Criminal Law, the prosecution must prove:
- The existence of duty.
- A breach of the duty causing death.
- The breach of the duty must be characterised as gross negligence.
- Rash or negligent act.- Rash or negligent act is an act done not intentionally or designedly. A rash act is primarily an over-hasty act, and is thus opposed to a deliberate act, but it also includes an act which, though it may be said to be deliberate is yet done without due deliberation and caution.
Negligence is the breach of a duty caused by omission to do something which a reasonable man guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or the doing of something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do.
Negligent act may be in different ways some of the cases decided in the past of negligent act are as follows:
- Laying trap by live wire. In the case of Kalaji vs state of Gujrat 1992, accused had connected live wire with his bicycle with a view to ward off mischief making children. A child touched the bicycle and got shock and ultimately died. It was held that the act of the accused amounted to negligence as he placed no sign board, caution or warning for not touching the bicycle and was liable to be punished under section 304 A.
- Res ipsa loquitur: In the case of Thakur Singh v State of Punjab 2003, the accused drove a bus rashly and negligently with 41 passengers and while crossing a bridge, the bus fell into the nearby canal resulting in death of all the passengers. The Court applied the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur since admittedly the petitioner was driving the bus at the relevant time and it was going over the bridge when it fell down. Evidence on record discloses that the bus had gone and dashed into a standing tree situated on the right side of the road. Unless, the vehicle had been driven rashly and/or negligently, the vehicle which had no mechanical defect would not have dashed to a standing tree, that too, on the right side of the road.
- Medical Negligence : In PB Desai vs State of Maharashtra 2013,
The Supreme Court held that due to the very nature of the medical profession , the degree of responsibility on the practitioner is higher than that of any other service provider.
- Death of a child in Swimming Pool :
In a case Complainant’s son drowned in swimming pool and died due to negligent attitude of owner, supervisor and observer of swimming pool. In the FIR, it was specifically mentioned that proposed accused is owner of Resorts. Accused was present in resort at time of admission of deceased boy and on date of incident too. Plea that the accused had already leased out the resort is of no consequence.High Court directed the magistrate to proceed against accused under section 319, Cr PC, 1973.
- Other Negligence
A, an unmarried girl gave birth to a child. She left the child in the night by the road side believing that someone will pick him up and bring him up.
She took all the precautions to leave the child at a lighted place and cover it up properly. The child, however, died of starvation before being detected by anyone. A would be liable for causing death by starvation.
In Bhimabhai Kalabhai v. State of Gujarat 1992, the petitioner constructed a water tank for the convenience of village people. The tank was filled with water but it collapsed causing death of seven persons and injuries to eight persons. The tank collapsed because it could not bear the pressure of water.
The material used in the construction was of a low quality and below the prescribed standard. The lower court convicted the accused under Sections. 304-A and 338 of the Penal Code and a revision application was filed before the High Court requesting reduction of sentence. It was held that the High Court cannot re appreciate the evidence in Revision Application and interfere with the conviction.
- Death due to Deceased’s own negligence does not invoke section 304A
Death due to deceased’s own negligence does not invoke Section 304-A
- In Rajan v. Joseph & Ors,’ the deceased (Ammini) who was working as maid servant died due to electric shock sustained by her while working on washing machine in the house of the accused (respondent) on April 15, 2005.
The husband of the deceased filed complaint before the JMFC and the Magistrate took cognizance of the offence under Section 304-A of IPC and issued summons to the accused. The accused (respondent) approached the High Court, praying for quashing the criminal case pending before the JMFC on the ground that it was on accidental death and there was no possibility of current leakage in washing machine as certified by the Electrical Inspector.The High Court accepted the plea of the respondent and quashed proceedings initiated by IMFC against him.
The husband of the deceased (appellant) thereupon moved in appeal before the Supreme Court alleging rashness and negligence on the part of accused the Supreme Court ordered a compensation of one lakh rupees to be paid to the appellant though it held that there was no negligence or rashness on the part of respondent.