Dr Naveen Kumar, an assistant professor in surgery at the Palakkad Government Medical College, lost his life to a tragic accident on Sunday night. Riding a bike with his wife Dr Jayashree and four-year-old son, the family was hit by a speeding car being driven by a minor. The whole incident was captured on CCTV footage.
Dr Jayashree and their toddler had a narrow escape. And though the CCTV footage clearly demarcates the perpetrators and the victims, there is little the law can do to help the latter fully compensate for their loss.
Radhakrishan, Inspector at Palakkad traffic station told TNM that the driver of the offending vehicle was not arrested as he was a minor. Further, he may get no further punishment than a fine.
â€śUsually in 304A IPC section cases (causing death by negligence) the person shall get a fine, imprisonment. Since he is a minor, he may only get maximum of one year stay at Juvenile home. Mostly, the case will end with a fine. We just have to take the accused in to the custody, produce him before the juvenile court and he can get bail,â€ť said the officer.
In this case the minor was driving a rented car, and while the owner has been charged, he is also eligible for bail, Radhakrishnan said. â€śIn such cases, it is questionable if these minor punishments can compensate for the loss of life,â€ť he observed.
Moreover, according to the experts, the family of the deceased may also not get third party insurance from the company of the offending vehicle.
An insurance expert who wished to remain unnamed told TNM that since a minor is not legally allowed to drive, the insurance company is not liable.
â€śCompensation has to come from the pocket of the person who has given the minor the vehicle to drive. If it was an adult driving, then the insurance company would pay but in this case the insurance will not take the loss. It will not come into the picture in this case as law has not been abided by,â€ť he said.
Kerala High Court advocate Ashkar Khader agreed. He added however that the dependents could sue for a case in a local court. â€śThe court could order the owner, who rented the vehicle to the minor, to pay the compensation,â€ť he said. However, this might entail a long legal battle.
Rani Sudhakar, Senior Vice President, Global Insurance Brokers strongly suggested that Dr Naveenâ€™s family sue the car owner. â€śThe owner of the car will not get the money from the insurance company, but has to pay from his pocket. Itâ€™s the owner of the rental serviceâ€™s fault for giving the car to a minor. He now has to pay for the insurance. The family should sue the owner and he cannot get away saying the driver was a minor,â€ť she asserted.