SECTION 279 IPC - Indian Penal Code - Rash driving or riding on a public way

Last Updated: 01 Apr, 2024
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

Whoever drives any vehicle, or rides, on any public way in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life, or to be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

IPC 279 in Simple Words

According to section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, if anyone drives a vehicle or rides on a public road recklessly or negligently, endangering human life or causing harm to others, they can be punished with imprisonment for up to six months, or a fine, or both.

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Offence : Driving or riding on a public way so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life, etc.

Punishment : 6 Months or Fine or Both

Cognizance : Cognizable

Bail : Bailable

Triable : Any Magistrate



Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC”) prescribes punishment for the offence of ‘rash driving or riding on a public way’.

Section 279, IPC deals with rash or negligent driving of any vehicle or riding on a public way in a rash or negligent manner so as to endanger human life or as is likely to cause hurt or injury to any person.

It's important to exercise caution when driving, as even the slightest lapse in attention could lead to legal consequences. If someone operates a vehicle recklessly or at an excessive speed and harms another person or puts them at risk of harm, they may be prosecuted under Section 279, IPC.

The essential ingredients that go into the making of an offence under Section 279, IPC are:

1. That the accused must have driven any vehicle, or rode on any public way so as to endanger human life, or as is likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person;

2. That the accused must have done such act in a rash or negligent manner.

In order to understand Section 279, IPC better, let us imagine the following –

- A was riding his motorcycle on a public way with such recklessness that he was unable to stop it in time and consequently hurt a pedestrian, who was acting in a reasonable manner. A has committed an offence under Section 279, IPC.


Generally, for any criminal liability to arise under IPC i.e., for a person to be held guilty for having committed an offence under IPC, it is important that he/she fulfils the essential criminal ingredients or criteria prescribed under the IPC section number for that particular offence.

Broadly, IPC defines offences by laying down two of its essential components –

a. Actus Reus i.e., the criminal act which the accused must have compulsorily performed.


b. Mens Rea i.e., the criminal mind which the accused must have compulsorily entertained while performing the above-stated criminal act.

It is when an accused does a criminal act under the influence of a criminal mind (as per the essential criminal ingredients for a particular offence), that he can be said to have committed that offence, in the eyes of law.

In other words, a criminal act must co-exist with a criminal mind in order for an act to be an offence under IPC and for criminal liability to arise thereunder.

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For a person to be held guilty for the offence of ‘rash driving or riding on a public wayunder Section 279, IPC it is important for the prosecution to necessarily prove the following:

1. Nature of the criminal act under Section 279, IPC:

The offence under Section 279, IPC requires that the accused must have driven any vehicle, or rode on any public way so as to endanger human life, or as is likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person.

Public way

To come within the ambit of Section 279, IPC another aspect to be kept in mind is riding negligently on a public way. Public way means a busy road, passage or an area highly populated which is commonly used or is opened for the access by the general people to walk or travel by a vehicle for example footpaths, roads, highway, bridges. It is a right of easement granted to the general public to move freely on such pathways.

Endanger human life

An injury is said to endanger human life if it may put life of another person in danger.

It is not imperative for an act to result into an injury but when a person drives vehicle on any such way as is used by the public, rashly or negligently, causing hurt or injury to any person not amounting to death of the person, whether knowingly or unknowingly, then the driver of the vehicle will be punishable under section 279 of Indian Penal Code.

2. Nature of the criminal mind under Section 279, IPC:

The offence under Section 279, IPC requires that the accused must have driven any vehicle, or rode on any public way so as to endanger human life, or as is likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person in a rash or negligent manner.

Rash or negligent driving

A rash act is primarily an overhasty one and so must be done without due deliberation and caution. Under Section 279, IPC carelessness may become a factor for deciding rashness or negligence on the part of the driver, however, mere high speed does not amount to rash driving. When the driver is capable of controlling the high speed of the vehicle or when the road on which he is driving seems fairly deserted, then the act of the driver will not constitute rash and negligent driving.

Although, sometimes even on highways the speed limit is fixed by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways which is quite high; in such cases driving in high speed will not hold the driver liable for the offence under Section 279, IPC. But if a person drives a vehicle on road without due care and attention, he shall be guilty of committing the offence under this Section.

3. Performance of the criminal act accompanied by the criminal mind i.e., execution of the offence under Section 279, IPC:

While entertaining the above-stated criminal mind (rashness or negligence) the accused must have committed the above-stated criminal act (drive or ride on a public way so as to endanger human life). This would constitute the offence of ‘rash driving or riding on a public way’ under Section 279, IPC.

The co-existence of the criminal mind and the criminal act should be proved by the prosecution in order to establish guilt under Section 279, IPC.

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Some of the famous and most important judgements on Section 279, IPC are as follows:

1. Prathap Kumar G vs State of Karnataka & Ors –

It was held by the Court that Section 279, IPC does not recognize and/or make an offence any injury caused otherwise than to human being. Thus, insofar as the injury or death caused to the pet or animal is concerned, the same would not amount to an offence in terms of Section 279, IPC.

2. P. Rajappan v. State of Kerala –

It is not necessary that the rash or negligent act should result in injury to life or property. Speed alone is not the criterion for deciding rashness or negligence on the part of the driver. The relationship between speed and rashness or negligence depends upon the place and time. In a straight wide road, where obstructions from other vehicles or pedestrians are not present, it cannot be said that driving in speed or absence of sounding a horn by itself would amount to rashness or negligence.

3. Nga Myat Thin –

Any way which is common to all subjects whether directly leading to a town or beyond a town as a throughfare to other towns or from town to town, may properly be called a public way.


In India, the mechanism for criminal justice delivery assumes shape of a criminal trial which is governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’).

The trial under Section 279, IPC takes a journey similar to the trials conducted for other criminal offences. Broadly, the procedure for a trial takes the steps - as have been enumerated below, beginning from the filing of an FIR to the final verdict by the court:

1. Investigation - FIR, Arrest, Remand and Bail under Section 279, IPC

i) First Information Report (FIR) - Criminal procedure is set into motion with the filing of an FIR or First Information Report under Section 279, IPC by the victim or an aggrieved person. This marks the beginning of investigation by police into the case of cheating under that Section.

ii) Arrest - FIR is soon followed by the arrest of the accused person (person who has allegedly committed the offence) by the police and his subsequent production before the Magistrate. Such production must be made within 24 hours of the arrest of the accused person.

iii) Remand/ Custody - At the time of such production if the investigating officer believes that the investigation under Section 279, IPC cannot be completed within 24 hours i.e., the police need more time with the accused for the purpose of interrogation etc., the officer will file an application before the same Magistrate seeking an extension in custody of the accused. Now, depending on the discretion of the Magistrate, such detention may be authorised in police custody i.e., a lock-up or in judicial custody i.e., jail.

However, it is to be noted that a Magistrate cannot authorise detention of an accused in police custody for a period exceeding the initial 15 days (from the date of the production of the accused before the Magistrate).

On the other hand, a Magistrate under Section 167 (2)(a), CrPC may authorize the detention of the accused in judicial custody beyond the period of initial 15 (fifteen) days, if he is satisfied that adequate grounds exist for doing so. However, no magistrate shall authorize custody for more than -

- Ninety days, where the investigation relates to an offense punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term not less than ten years;

- Sixty days, where the investigation relates to any other offense.

iv) Bail - If upon the expiry of 60 or 90 days, as the case may be, the police is unable to complete the investigation and file a chargesheet (under Section 279, IPC) with the Magistrate, the accused is entitled to default bail i.e., such bail is compulsorily granted to the accused provided he applies for and furnishes bail.

However, during the sixty- or ninety-day period, as the case may be, while the accused is still under custody of the police or otherwise for the offence under Section 279, IPC, he may keep pushing for the grant of regular bail under Section 437 or 439, CrPC by the Magistrate or the High Court/ Sessions Court, respectively.

2. Filing of Final Report by the Police

The police after completing the investigation under Section 279, IPC would have to file a final report under Section 173, CrPC. This marks the conclusion of the investigation which is aimed at collecting evidence surrounding the commission of the offence under that Section.

The final report may take one of the following forms:

a. Closure Report

b. Charge Sheet

Closure Report

If the evidence collected against the accused is found to be deficit i.e., there is not enough evidence to support prosecution of the accused under Section 279, IPC, before a Court of law justifying his further detention in the custody, then the police will file a closure report under Section 169, CrPC and release the accused on his executing a bond/ signing an undertaking for his appearance, if and when so required, before a Court or Magistrate.

In other words, a closure report is filed when the police have little or no evidence in support of the fact that the offense under Section 279, IPC has been committed by the accused under custody.

The police officer is bound to notify the informant (who gets an FIR lodged) the fact that a final report relating to his case under Section 279, IPC has been submitted to the Magistrate.

Upon presentation of the closure report to the Magistrate, he is open to proceed with any of the following four options:

1) He may accept the closure report and refuse to take cognizance of the offence. The result in that case will be that the case would not proceed further.

2) He may reject the closure report and instead take cognizance of the offence under Section 190, CrPC.

The result in that case will be that the case would proceed to the next stage.

3) Without rejecting the closure report he may direct the investigating agency to conduct further investigation into the matter, if he thinks that there is some lacunae or gap that needs filling-up.

4) If an informant challenges such closure report by filing a protest petition, the Magistrate or Court shall proceed to adjudicate upon the same following which he may take or refuse to take cognizance of the offence.

If the Magistrate takes cognizance of the offence under Section 190, CrPC he would issue summons to the accused, under Section 204, CrPC thereby directing his appearance before himself.

Charge Sheet

If the evidence collected against the accused is found to be sufficient i.e., there is enough evidence to support prosecution of the accused under Section 279, IPC before a Court of law and that justifies his continued detention in the custody, then the police will file a charge sheet under Section 173, CrPC and will forward the accused under custody to the Magistrate under Section 170, CrPC.

A charge sheet is a formal police record which is drawn out in a format prescribed by the State, stipulating the various particulars relating to the case, like names of the parties involved, nature of the accusations levelled, list of witnesses, statements of witnesses recorded during their examination under Section 161, CrPC, whether any offense appears to have been committed and, if so, by whom, whether the accused has been arrested and
whether he has been forwarded in custody under Section 170, CrPC or whether he has been released on his bond, list of objects seized and other documentary evidences that the prosecution seeks to rely on.

Once the Magistrate takes cognizance on the charge sheet, he shall issue warrant (as per the offence under Section 279, IPC) to the accused thereby securing his attendance before himself on a given date.

The Magistrate on the date fixed will conduct a hearing on charges and may consequently either discharge the accused and close the case, or he may frame the charges against the accused under Section 279, IPC and post the case for trial.

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3. Plea of Guilty or Not Guilty by the Accused

After the charges have been formally framed under Section 279, IPC, they will be read over and explained to the accused by the Magistrate/ Court. Thereafter, the accused would be asked whether he pleads guilty to such charge of cheating or not.

If the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate shall record such plea and may convict him for the offence of cheating under Section 279, IPC. However, it is to be noted that the responsibility lies with the Magistrate to ensure that the plea of guilt is made voluntarily by the accused and that is why he reserves the discretion with himself to convict the accused on such plea.

If the accused doesn’t plead guilty i.e., if he claims trial, the Magistrate shall post the case for trial.

4. Evidence for Prosecution

On the day fixed for the prosecution evidence, the Magistrate/ Court invites the prosecution to lead evidence and prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution may establish the guilt with the help of either oral or documentary evidence.

The prosecution witnesses are summoned and examined and are asked to produce any document or thing in support of their version of events.

These witnesses may be subject to cross-examination if the defence counsel so desires.

5. Statement of the Accused

After the prosecution concludes its evidence, the same is put to the accused i.e., he is given an opportunity/ chance to explain the circumstances appearing in evidence against him and to say in his defence what he wants to, in his own words. This mandate is captured under Section 313, CrPC. The purpose of such statement is to establish a direct dialogue between the Court and the accused so as to enable him to explain the incriminating material.

This statement is not taken on oath and anything recorded as part of it can be used against the accused at a later stage.

6. Evidence for Defence

After recording the statement of the accused, the Court invites the defence to present evidence, if any. The accused, however is not mandatorily required to enter upon his defence as the burden of proof lies on the prosecution to prove the charge against him beyond reasonable doubt.

If the accused has any evidence (oral or documentary), it is presented before the Court at this stage. This is an opportunity for him to punch holes in the prosecution story for which it can call upon and examine witnesses or request production of a document or a thing.

7. Final Arguments

As per Section 314, CrPC, after the close of the evidence both parties take turns - first, the prosecution and then the defence - to make final oral arguments in front of the Magistrate or Court. Final arguments are presented by the Public Prosecutor and the Defence counsel.

8. Judgment

After examining the facts and circumstances of the case, analysing the evidence produced by both the parties in support of their versions and hearing the arguments advanced by each of them, the Magistrate/ Court decides, based on strong reasons, whether to convict or acquit the accused. This is known as ‘pronouncing a judgment’.

If the accused is pronounced ‘guilty’ upon trial, he is convicted of the charge under Section 279, IPC and if pronounced ‘not-guilty’, he is acquitted of the charge under Section 279, IPC. The above is recorded in a judgement.

If the accused is convicted, then both sides are heard on quantum of sentence i.e., what punishment should he be given. This is usually done if the punishment prescribed is that of life imprisonment or death.

After hearing the arguments on the sentence, the court finally decides what punishment should the accused be sentenced to. Various theories of punishment are considered like the reformative theory and the deterrent theory of punishment etc. Also, considerations like age, background, and history of the accused are given due weightage before arriving at a decision on the punishment.

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The fundamental principles of appeal under CrPC are as follows:

  • An appeal is a creation of statute.

  • There is no inherent right to file an appeal.

  • There is no appeal only against conviction.

  • There is no appeal in petty cases.

  • Generally, there is no appeal on conviction on a plea of guilt.

It is important to note that, apart from the procedure set out in the CrPC or other applicable laws, a criminal court's decision or order cannot be appealed against. Therefore, there is no inherent right to appeal, and even the first appeal is subject to statutory limitations. The justification behind this principle is that the courts that preside over a case are assumed to be capable and qualified to ensure that the trial is carried out impartially. However, as per the Section 372, CrPC the victim has a right to appeal against any order passed by the Court under special circumstances comprising of a judgment of acquittal, conviction for lesser offence or inadequate compensation.

Generally, same sets of rules and procedures are employed to govern the appeals in the Courts of Session and High Courts (highest court of appeal in a State and enjoys more powers in matters where appeal is allowed). The highest court of appeal in the country is the Supreme Court and hence, it enjoys wide discretionary and plenary powers in the cases of appeals. Its powers are largely governed by the provisions laid down in CrPC, Indian Constitution, and the Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 1970.

The law provides a person who has been convicted of a crime to appeal to the Supreme Court or the High Court or the Sessions Court as per the circumstances.

The accused has been given the right to appeal to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the High Court if the High Court has reversed an order of his acquittal on appeal by convicting him, thereby, sentencing him to imprisonment for life or for ten years or more, or to death.

A similar right to appeal has been granted to one or all accused persons if more than one person has been convicted in a trial and such order has been passed by the court.

However, there are certain circumstances under which no appeal would lie. These provisions have been laid down under Section 265G, Section 375 and Section 376 of the CrPC.


Section 279, IPC makes the offence of ‘rash driving or riding on a public way’ punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

The minimum punishment for the offence under Section 279, IPC is mere fine (less than one thousand rupees) or imprisonment (less than six months) the amount and duration of which depends on the discretion of the presiding Judge or Magistrate.

The maximum punishment for the offence under Section 279, IPC is six months of imprisonment and fine of one thousand rupees.


Yes, since the offence of ‘rash driving or riding on a public way’ under Section 279, IPC is a cognizable offence, a police officer can arrest a person suspected to have committed such offence without warrant from the Court (a warrant is a Court-order authorising a police officer to carry out an arrest).

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Yes, the offence under Section 279, IPC is bailable.


Since the offence under Section 279 , IPC is a bailable one, an accused arrested in the alleged commission of the same can apply for bail before the Investigating Officer, or if he is forwarded to the Court of Magistrate, before such Magistrate. Bail in a bailable offence can be granted by both the Court or the Investigating Officer.

In a bailable case, an accused is entitled to bail as a matter of right; it is not a favour bestowed on him by the authorities.

In such offences, the Officer or the Court does not reserve any discretion in the grant of bail. Bail can be claimed as of right and there is a statutory duty imposed upon the Police Officer as well as the Court to release a person on bail if he is prepared to give bail.

Hon’ble Supreme Court has held in a case that as soon as it appears that the accused person is prepared to give bail, the police officer or the court before whom he offers to give bail, is bound to release him on such terms as to bail as may appear to the officer or the court to be reasonable. It would even be open to the officer or the court to discharge such person on his executing a bail-bond as provided in Section 436, CrPC instead of taking bail from him. Though bail, in bailable offences, is a matter of right, the accused can be remanded to custody for breach of the conditions of bail/bail bond.

Bail-Bond is a document of promise signed by the accused whereby an accused is set at large on the condition that he will not flee the authorities, will cooperate in investigation, will not threaten witnesses or tamper with the evidence.

Bail is a document whereunder an accused and/or his surety is required to deposit security in the form of either cash or property papers (RC of a vehicle etc.,) with the court/police with the view to ensure accused’s compliance with the conditions of the bond. In the event of its non-compliance the security amount will be forfeited. (Surety is the person who gives guarantee for the compliance of the bail conditions by the accused and that he will present himself before the court/police as & when required).

It is beneficial to take assistance from an experienced criminal lawyer in matters of bail.


The offence under Section 279, IPC is not compoundable i.e., law does not allow for a compromise to be recorded between the victim and the offender.

It is an offence for which the law requires that the offender be put to trial and punished.


1. “Last month, when I was on my way to the nearest general store I met with a mishap. A boy named Vicky who is our neighbour, was riding his new bike on the same road. That road doesn’t have a footpath. I could hear his speeding bike approach close to me as I continued walking with increased care towards the general store. I had to side step a big pile of trash for which I momentarily turned a little towards the middle of the road. In that moment Vicky’s bike-mirror rammed into my right arm. It developed into a big contusion. He drove away without a care in the world. Mine was the third incident in 15-days when Vicky had driven rashly and hurt or nearly hurt a girl pedestrian. I had to do something to stop this nuisance. I consulted a lawyer through LawRato who guided me to get an FIR registered against him under Section 279, IPC. The police is investigating the case. I, along with some locality people was called in for interrogation today. Vicky hasn’t repeated his deed. I am glad I took this step.”

- Prerna Sharma

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Being charged with an offence, whether major or minor, is a serious matter.

Someone who is accused of a crime faces the possibility of severe penalties such as being incarcerated or having to pay significant fines. In addition, they may also experience adverse social outcomes, such as being stigmatized by having a criminal record associated with their name. This can result in a damaged reputation that can impact both their personal and professional life. Furthermore, they may have to endure costly, protracted, and emotionally taxing legal proceedings. While some legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal arrest of any nature warrants legal advice of an expert criminal lawyer who can guide you about your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case.

If you're facing criminal prosecution, a criminal lawyer can help you understand:

  • The nature of the charges filed;

  • Your rights before and after an arrest;

  • Any defences that may be available;

  • What plea bargains are likely to be offered; and

  • What is expected after trial or conviction.

One should ideally prepare a timeline of events and take it down on a piece of paper so that it is easier to brief the lawyer about the case. This will also help the lawyer to formulate a strategy to successfully conduct the trial and convince the court to adjudge in your favour.

Additionally, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the relevant laws regarding the case. It is advisable to have a discussion with the lawyer and obtain an understanding of the legal process and the applicable regulations. It is equally important to conduct your own investigation and comprehend the potential risks involved, as well as how to mitigate them.

Hence, having by your side a criminal lawyer can prove to be of immense help when charged with an offence as under Section 279, IPC.

What is section 279 IPC? Section 279 IPC punishes anyone who drives or rides a vehicle negligently, endangering the lives of others. This section can result in a maximum six-month prison sentence, or a fine of $1,000.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Section 279 and 337 of the IPC?

It is clear that section 279 of IPC only applies to reckless and negligent driving on public roads that puts others' lives at risk. The Indian Penal Code punishes the driver if he causes physical or fatal harm to another. 30 May 2022

What is Section 279 of the CRPC?

Description. When evidence is presented in a foreign language that the accused does not understand, but he is in court, it will be translated to him in an open Court, in a way he can understand.

What is Section 338 of the IPC?

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