A bus driver from Kerala who fought 26 years for a six-month jail term was finally let off by the Supreme Court. Surendran, a resident of Kozhikode, was jailed for six months for rash driving, reported The Hindu. The court let him off with a ₹ 2,000 fine.
A bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan agreed with Surendran that sending him to jail now would only accomplish leaving his wife and four children in penury. "Looking to the facts and circumstances of the present case especially the fact that 26 years have elapsed from the incident, we are inclined to substitute the sentence of six months imprisonment," Justice Bhushan held in a recent judgment.
On February 16, 1995, Surendran's bus hit a car. He was charged with offences under Sections 279, 337 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code. Four years later, in 1999, the local magistrate sentenced him to six months of imprisonment and a fine of ₹ 500. The sessions court dismissed Surendran's appeal in 2003. The High Court too did not find any reason to intervene with the verdict in 2015. He did not lose hope and appealed to the top court, which issued a notice in August 2016.
After a gap of nearly five years and with no one appearing on the other side for the prosecution, the court acknowledged Surendran's case that sending the sole breadwinner to jail after over two decades of the incident would cause "irreparable injury". It said it would be too harsh.