If punishment is not painful, how can it be punishment?
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) report of 2018, almost 5,00,000 accidents are happening in India every year. These accidents results in the deaths of about 1,50,000 people. One-fourth of the accident victims who survive become permanently disabled and only one fourth of them achieve their pre injury status in spite of the best treatment available in our country. Many a time, optimum results are not possible due to financial constraints with patients and family members and sometimes due to limited resources in the hospitals.
The senior among the authors has an experience of more than 40 years in treating patients of road traffic accidents. Road traffic accidents have become an epidemic in our country and this is taking a high toll on human and financial resources. These road traffic accidents are becoming a hurdle in the growth of the nation. It should be duty not only of the government of the country but there should be contributions from the public, NGOs and other social organisations as well, to spread the awareness that the society and nation is losing a lot in terms of human lives and financial resource. Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among young people aged betwen 15 and 29 years. In economic terms, the country loses about two to three per cent of its GDP due to road accidents for which we should be collectively concerned but it seems our efforts are not matching in the actions taken to prevent them. The proposed bullet train project from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is estimated to cost almost Rs one lakh crore. If we are able to save the money spent on treating these injuries then our country can execute more than one bullet train every year.
The mass media is full of reports and opinions to the effect that the recently amended motor vehicles act is against the general public because they have to pay more penalty if they violate the rules or disobey the law. It seems that the interpretation of most of the state governments of our country and that of the public in general is that the sole purpose of the amendment is that the government wants to earn the money by penalising the traffic rule violations. But contrary to that, on many occasions from different platforms, the current road transport minister Nitin Gadkari has reiterated that the idea of increasing the penalty against the violators is not to earn the money but to save the lives of many stakeholders who can be involved in road traffic accident.
If we go according to the concept of penalty for the offenders, penalty is imposed only on those who break the law. The idea of penalty is to deter the offender from breaking the law in the future and to send a message to the society that if anybody breaks the law then he or she will be penalised.
There are various means of penalising an offender. However, the financial penalty can be easily imposed and executed. Now the question arises as to why there is hue and cry against the amended act. What one can gather from the mass media reports is that many are against the hike in the amount of penalty against the violators.
Here, one must note that the penalty has been raised for violations like not wearing the helmet/seat belt from Rs 500 to Rs 1000 knowing very well that it will be applicable only if we violate the law. If we are so concerned about saving our hard earned money then it is surely easier to carry our driving license, vehicle registration certificate and other documents. Is it that difficult to keep our DL, RC in our wallet when every day we also carry money and other documents with us?
Now the second question raised is whether it is so difficult to wear the helmet and seat belt before starting our vehicles and getting on the road. It is to be noted that the chances of fatalities and seriousness of injuries increase in riders who are not using helmet while using two wheelers and not fastening the seat belt while travelling in four wheelers.
The third issue is blocking an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance. The penalty is raised from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 for this offence. We should analyse whether our work is so important and urgent that we block the road for the emergency victims in the vehicle like ambulance, fire brigades and police vehicle chasing the violators or criminals.
The hike of penalty for drinking and driving has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000. The accidents which happen under the influence of alcohol usually happen during the night due to over speeding and overtaking and they are usually fatal. The treatment cost of these poly-traumatised patients cannot be done under Rs 10,000 in any well equipped hospital in the country. If this hike can prevent even one fatal accident, is it not worth for the individual, family, society and ultimately our nation?
A question was raised during a dabate on a national TV channel about a certain segment of society not being in a position to afford the hiked penalties because the penalty is more than their monthly income. Here one would like to ask whether the scope of the penalty should be decided according to the law breaker.
Punishment is defined in legal language as the infliction of some kind of pain or loss upon a person for a misdeed by an authority. Financial punishment is a common form for minor crimes and a common example of a fine is money paid for violation of traffic rules. If the offence is because of ignorance then the criteria of least of penalty is to be considered however when offence is done knowingly and repeatedly then how can one expect not to get punished.
As far as motor vehicle offence is concerned one thinks it should be a national policy rather than a policy which varies from state to state particularly when we know that there is need for following the traffic rules similarly all over the country.
Almost 10 per cent of world road traffic fatalities are occurring in India although we have only one per cent of the vehicles of the world. A research conducted by authors found that 90 per cent of these accidents occurred due to the driver’s negligence. The main cause of accident is that that we are violating the traffic rules. Overtaking, over speeding, drunken driving and recently use of mobile phone while driving are the main causes of road traffic accidents in India.
If punishment is not painful then how can it be punishment? The pain must be essential and not accidental to the infliction of punishment, according to the criteria of punishment principle. Where is the question of punishment, if we follow the law? Should it not be suggested that we all should follow the traffic rules honestly and save our money which we can use for our food, education and health of their families?
If you see the current scenario of road accidents, the things are quite similar almost everywhere in India as authors have travelled through many cities in our country and scores of other countries of the world. One has observed that aggression on the road is a common scenario on Indian roads and it seems that Indians take pride in breaking the existing traffic rules while travelling on the roads. Because of this aggressive behaviour and violation of the traffic rules, the nation is losing a lot in terms of human and economic resource.
One wonders that if the money is an important criterion for these law violators and if they want to save the money, then can it not be suggested appropriately that such people follow the traffic rules so that they save their money and probably their life too and the money and lives of the others as well? These violators will not only save their money on penalty but also the money which is going to be spent on the treatment in the hospitals if accident happens.
All of us should spread awareness to prevent these accidents because they have taken the form of an epidemic. The public should learn the traffic rules and should follow them; the government should teach the traffic rules and should enforce them to prevent the road traffic tragedies.
(Dr Gaurav Sanjay is an orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon based in Dehradun. Dr BKS Sanjay is an orthopaedic and spine surgeon, and the founding president of State Chapter of Indian Orthopaedic Association)
Monday, 16 September 2019 | Dr Gaurav Sanjay & Dr BKS Sanjay | in Guest Column
You might also like
- There is absolutely no contract among practitioners on who should produce the directions, although some psychologists recommend an organization that is professional including the United states Psychological Assn., might be best matched to complete the task. November 14, 2019
- Why Everyone Is Talking About Online Slots…The Easy Fact Revealed November 14, 2019
- 50:50 Sena’s post-poll artifice, asserts Shah November 14, 2019
- Cabinet meeting: Start-ups to reserve 50 % jobs to locals in U’khand November 14, 2019
- No stone crushers within 3 kms of rivers November 14, 2019