Sec. 304-A. Causing death by negligence:
Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
A. Nature of offence:
Cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable and triable by Magistrate of the first class.
B. Traffic accidents, accidents in factories, etc.:
Generally Sec. 304-A is taken into consideration in the cases of traffic accidents, accidents in factories, etc. It is the duty of the driver to drive the vehicle in a cautious way.
Where a driver drives the vehicle in an abnormal manner and causes the death of persons, he is held liable under Sec. 304-A. Where a factory owner neglects the maintenance of the machine, and causes the death of a person, he shall be held liable under this Section.
C. Medical Negligence:
In medical field, if a doctor conducts operation or gives treatment in negligent manner and causes death of the patient, he will be held liable under this Section.
D. Mens rea:
In the cases under this Section, the doctrine of mens rea does not apply. The wrongdoer causes the offence due to rash or negligence or inefficiency Hence mens rea is out of place in this category of offences. However if the mens rea in the accused is proved by the prosecution, then this Section does not apply, Sec. 299 or 300 applies.
E. House constructions, etc.:
It is the duty of the house owner/contractor in constructing or to demolishing a building or any construction, to take all precautions so that no harm or injury shall occur to the neighbours or to the workers.
While constructing or painting, if any worker falls from the building and dies, the owner is prosecuted under this Section. Example: The fly over at Punja Gutta (Hyderabad) was collapsed in September, 2007. State prosecuted the contractor under this Section.
F. Juggan Khan vs. State of M.P. (AIR 1965 SC 831)
Brief Facts: The accused was a Homoepathic Medical Practitioner. He started practising since May,-1960. He distributed pamphlets in the town that he would cure the chronic diseases including Naru (guinea worm).
Smt Deobi, aged 20 years, was lured by the advertisement, and she approached the accused for the treatment on 30-5-1961 at 8.00 a.m. The accused administered 24 drops of mother tincture stramonium and a leaf of dhatura.
After taking the medicine Deobi started feeling of restless and illness with stomach ache. She died at 5.00 p.m. The accused was prosecuted under Section 302. The Sessions Judge convicted the accused under Section 302. On appeal the High Court confirmed the judgment of the trial Court. He appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court held that the appellant caused the death of Smt. Deobi by his rash and negligent conduct and he had no intention to cause the death of the patient. Hence the Supreme Court set aside the conviction under Sec. 302 and imposed conviction of rigorous imprisonment under Sec. 304-B.