Only eye-witnesses can prove charges of negligent driving, says Madras HC judge Ravichandrababu

Only eye-witnesses can prove charges of negligent driving, says Madras HC
The court was hearing a case filed by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) against a 2013 labour court ruling that came in favour of a wrongly terminated TNSTC employee.
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The Madras High Court has said only eye-witnesses can prove charges of rash and negligent driving and without any such witnesses, such charge would not hold good in Court.
Justice K Ravichandrabaabu made the observation while dismissing an appeal moved by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) against the order of a labour court in November, 2013, directing it to pay Rs 2 lakh as compensation to kin of a driver, who was wrongly terminated by the corporation.
The late G Gopal was working as a driver for the corporation’s Villupuram division and on February 14, 1999 the vehicle driven by him met with an accident in which three people died. Gopal had claimed that the accident was not due to his negligence or rash driving and that the vehicle was not properly maintained by the corporation.
However, after framing charges, the management conducted a domestic inquiry and terminated the services of Gopal with effect from August 16, 1999. Aggrieved, Gopal moved the labour court challenging his dismissal.
As Gopal died during the pendency of the dispute, the labour court impleaded his wife and children in the case.
After considering the fact that in the domestic inquiry, no eye-witnesses were examined to substantiate the charge levelled against Gopal, the labour directed the corporation to pay Rs 2 lakh as compensation to his kin. Challenging the same, TNSTC moved the present appeal.
Rejecting the appeal, Justice Ravichandrabaabu said, “Needless to say that the right persons to speak about the accident are the eye-witnesses to the same. Only those persons will be in a position to speak as to whether the deceased was driving the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner.”
The judge further said admittedly, no such eye-witness was examined in this case, adding the management, while conducting the independent domestic inquiry, is not justified in simply relying on the FIR alone, without examining the eye witnesses.
He said therefore the labour court was right in coming to the conclusion that the dismissal of the deceased from the service is not just and proper.

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