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Driver can’t be punished for death of petitioner’s pet dog as there is no enmity, says Karnataka High Court


The Karnataka High Court has quashed a case pending in a lower court against a car driver who was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Motor Vehicles Act for causing an accident that led to the death of a petitioner’s pet dog. Prathap Kumar G was driving his sports utility vehicle (SUV) in Vijayanagar, Bengaluru, on February 24, 2018 when his car hit a pet dog named Memphi. Dhiraj Rakheja, whose mother was taking the dog for a walk, filed a complaint.

The Vijayanagar police investigating officer conducted the investigation and filed a charge sheet against the petitioner for offences under Section 134(A & B) and 187 of the Motor Vehicles Act, and Sections 279, 428, and 429 of IPC. The case was pending before the Metropolitan Magistrate Traffic Court-II, Bengaluru.

Quashing the case pending before the lower court, Justice Suraj Govindraj in his October 21 judgement said, “Having come to a conclusion that there is no offence made out under Section 134 (a) and (b) of M.V Act, Section 187 of M.V Act, Section 279 of IPC as also under Section 428 and 429 of IPC, I am of the considered opinion that the continuation of the criminal proceedings would only be an abuse of process of court and would cause injustice to the petitioner to suffer the ignominy of a criminal trial.”

On the question of whether an offence under Section 134 (A & B) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 would get attracted in the event of an accident involving a pet animal, the High Court said, “I am of the considered opinion that the said provision relates only to injury to a person, a dog or animal not being a person would not come within the ambit of Section 134 (a) and (b) of M.V Act. This section deals with ‘Duty of driver in case of accident and injury to a person’.”

The charge under Section 187 (punishment for offences relating to accident) was also rejected for the same reason.

Rejecting the claim under Section 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way), the High Court said: “In the present circumstances, the penal provision of Section 279 of IPC if read and understood in its literal sense which is the interpretation required to be given to all penal provisions, endangering a pet or causing hurt or injury to a pet/animal would not be one, which is punishable under Section 279 of IPC.”

The court said that the only offence if at all is attributed would likely be under Section 428 (mischief) or Section 429 (mischief by killing an animal whose value is above Rs 50) of the IPC.

“It is required that there must be mens rea or animus for the accused to have committed such an offence. Admittedly, the petitioner is not known to the complainant and/or his family members nor that the petitioner has any enmity with the deceased pet dog Memphi. Hence, there cannot be any animus said to be existence in the petitioner to cause the death of the said pet Memphi,” the High Court stated.



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