Keep your hands off your cell phone while you are driving—a statement that we all are to commit in our mind. Where we see safety sign boards everywhere urging drivers not to talk over phone; Kerala high court passed an unusual statement. Talking over mobile phone is not illegal and it does not cause danger to public or affect public safety! On Wednesday May 16, a division bench of the high court including justices AM Shaffique and P Somarajan ruled that Kerala police cannot register a case if drivers are found talking over the phone as there are no provisions in the law to put a person behind the bar.
The statement came in response made by a single bench about the applicability of section 118 (e) of Kerala Police Act. The Act follows penalty to those causing grave violation of public order or danger to public or failure in public safety. “There is no provision in the Police Act that bans people from talking over mobile phone while driving. Hence a person doing this can’t be assumed as one causes danger to the public,” the bench said. It is further reported that the single bench considered a petition filed by Santhosh MJ against State of Kerala through advocate George Joseph Pulimoottil.
The hearing was made followed by a trial where the petitioner was found talking over the phone while driving on the public road at 5:45 pm on April 26, 2017. As per the court’s order those who have been charged by the police for using mobile phones while driving can approach the magistrate courts and can cancel the case. The court also said that if any case under such acts are registered, the law should be amended and passed by the Legislative Assembly.
Ann offence under section 118 (e) is punishable with imprisonment up to three years or fine up to Rs. 10,000 or both. The matter referred to a 2012 judgement led by Abdul Latheef v/s State of Kerala by Justice SS Satheesachandran. It was held by Justice Satheesachandran that section 118 (e) cannot be raised against talking on mobile phone while driving as there is no constitutional provision to the effect that such use would harm the public. The court further informed that if using a mobile phone while driving will lead to driving dangerously, then the case will come under Section 184 in Motor Vehicles Act.