VISAKHAPATNAM: It is not just the celebrities and the influential, but even majority of regular motorists, accused in fatal road accidents are evidently getting off scot-free. According to sources, a little over 10 per cent of the accused in fatal road accidents in the city are being sentenced. The major reason for this is said to be lack of proper evidence, particularly eyewitnesses.
A whopping 5,417 accidents have occurred between January 2011 and April 2015, in which 1,692 persons died and 5,456 were injured. This year alone, 124 persons died in 461 road mishaps in Visakhapatnam city till April 30. The average number of accidents occurring in the city have increased over the last five years, with the city registering a monthly average of 115 accidents this year till April 30, the highest in the last five years.
Despite the alarming numbers, top police sources have said that cases dating back to 2009 have been pending in various courts. Among those which have been disposed of, the accused did not reach the conviction level in 90 per cent of the cases. While some of the cases let off the accused for not having been found guilty, reasons such as insufficient evidence, compromises between both the parties, or dismissal of the case with a fine have also been found to be bringing down the conviction level.
“The accused is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment only in about 10-15 per cent of the cases. While many cases fail to stand in court due to lack of evidence like an eyewitness, those convicted are let off with a fine,” the officer said. Police officers lament that the biggest challenge for them is to find a credible eyewitness. In many cases, the eyewitnesses are kin of either the accused or the victim who are not considered a solid witness in general. Eyewitnesses who are not related to the parties involved in the accidents and willing to come forward are far and few. A police official said that accidents occur due to negligence and proving that is difficult in the absence of an eyewitness unless it is a DUI case.
“Road accidents neither involve moral turpitude nor are intentional. So, there should be a strong error on part of the accused. A few cases are also dismissed due to lack of proper presentation in the court,” said Vizag Bar Association president J Prithviraj.
From January 2011 to April 2015
Accidents occurred : 5,417
Deaths caused : 1,692
Injured in accidents : 5,456
From January 2015 to April 2015
Accidents occurred : 461
Deaths caused : 124
Injured in accidents : 466