Luxury cars and Road Safety: A Deadly Impact of Social Status on Legal Outcomes or Merely a Lacuna in Motor Vehicle Laws?



As per the report of ROAD ACCIDENTS IN INDIA 2022 ( RA Draft.cdr ( TABLE 1.1 at page no. 5 there was an increase of 11.9 percent increase in road accidents as compared to previous years and around 9.4 percent surge compared to previous year has been seen regarding the deaths of the person as a consequence of road accidents . There were total 4,61,312 no of accidental cases were reported out of which 1,68,491 people were killed and 4,43,366 no of people sustained injuries. TABLE 1.5 at page no. 10 of the same report in 2022 the number of hit and run Accidents was 67,387 in which around 30,486 were killed and 54,726 were left injured.

Road safety is a global concern affecting all countries, irrespective of their economic status or demographics. In India, the rapid expansion of roads and vehicles has led to a rise in accidents, resulting in tragic loss of life and significant economic consequences. Recent incidents involving luxury cars, such as a Porsche in Pune and an Audi in Noida, highlight a troubling pattern. These accidents not only demonstrate the severe outcomes of reckless driving but also provoke serious questions about how road safety laws are enforced, particularly for high-performance vehicles.

This legal article deals and tends to study the inter- relationship between social status, legal consequences, and road safety. There is ongoing debate about whether current motor vehicle laws adequately address the unique safety challenges posed by these vehicles or if there are critical gaps that urgently need attention. Incidents like the one in Ahmedabad, where a speeding Jaguar caused multiple fatalities, illustrate the devastating impact of such accidents and the legal complexities they involve.

In India, laws concerning hit-and-run incidents fall under the Indian Penal Code and the Motor Vehicles Act. However, these laws have notable gaps, including insufficient enforcement, unclear definitions, and lenient penalties, especially in cases that do not involve culpable homicide.

Efforts are being made to rectify these shortcomings, including the proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which aims to replace the outdated IPC. This new legislation seeks to update and strengthen penalties for offences like hit-and-run, ensuring clearer definitions and more effective deterrents.


Around the world, there is a lot of worry about road safety. It affects all nations, rich or poor, and knows neither demographic nor geographic bounds. India is seeing an increased number of traffic accidents and fatalities due to the country’s fast growing road network, growing number of vehicles, and rising average speed on the roads. This not only causes enormous sorrow for people but also depletes the nation’s GDP by taking thousands of economically useful lives. Which often sparkes widespread debate about the adequacy of existing traffic laws and their enforcement, especially when it comes to high-performance luxury cars.

Such accidents  highlight not only the tragic consequences of reckless driving but also raise questions about the enforcement of road safety laws, particularly concerning luxury vehicles these collectively underline the complex interplay between social status, legal outcomes, and road safety in the context of luxury cars. They prompt critical reflection on whether current motor vehicle laws effectively address the unique safety challenges posed by these vehicles, or if there exists a significant gap that needs to be urgently addressed. As discussions continue, the need for comprehensive measures to ensure the safe operation of all .


In recent news across various Indian cities, several tragic incidents involving luxury cars have brought to the forefront a pressing concern: the relationship between luxury vehicles and road safety. One such incident occurred in Pune in May 2024, where a Porsche Taycan, allegedly driven by a 17-year-old without a registration certificate since March, was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that claimed the lives of two motorcyclists. The driver, reportedly intoxicated, was apprehended and subsequently placed in a rehabilitation home until June 5th pending legal proceedings. 

Similarly, in the same month, in Noida, an Audi sedan was involved in a speeding-related incident that resulted in the death of a pedestrian. Despite efforts by authorities to locate the vehicle and its driver, both remain elusive, with an FIR filed and legal proceedings initiated. Again, in May 2024, in another incident Two persons were killed and three others were injured when a speeding BMW car crashed into an e-rickshaw carrying five people from the Noida City Centre metro station into the Sector 12-22 intersection.

In Ahmedabad, a 19-year-old driver known for his history of speeding was involved in a devastating accident on the iskcon flyover. Operating his vehicle at 140 kmph, well above the speed limit, he collided with several vehicles, resulting in nine fatalities and injuring 13 others. Nine people, including two police constables, a home guard, and a man, were killed on Wednesday night in Ahmedabad after midnight when they were struck by a speeding Jaguar automobile and dragged around 120 feet. The people who had gathered on the bridge beat up Tathya Patel, the driver of the Jaguar. Along with his father, Pranabha Patel, he was taken into custody late on Thursday, setting the deputy commissioner of police in motion.


In general sense “Hit and Run” case refers to a situation where a driver causes of collision involving a person or property and then flees the scene without stopping to provide contact information or assist those involved. This can include accidents involving heavy vehicles, pedestrians, Two or Four wheelers or other objects.


In India though the term “Hit and Run” is not explicitly defined in any statute or legislature but it refers to a situation where the negligent or rash driving by a person, results in death to others such death is caused without the presence of mens rea. The legal framework for hit and run cases is governed by the ‘Indian Penal Code, 1860’ and ‘The motor vehicle act, 1988’. 

In Blyth v. Birmingham Water Works Co, Negligence was defined as the omission to do something which a reasonable man would do or doing something which a prudent or reasonable man would not do.

When someone acts in a way that significantly deviates from how a reasonable person would act in the same or comparable circumstances and such act would cause any injury (SECTION 44 IPC,1860) as a consequence of which a person would be liable for a punitive or sanction, it is considered criminal negligence. One distinction between civil negligence and Criminal negligence is that the former cannot be interpreted as a dramatic departure from what a reasonable person would do.



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

Thus, its essentials include as following;

  1. There must be a death of the person in question 
  2. Such death is caused by the accused
  3. The accused was negligent and rash while driving
  4. Such death doesn’t amount to culpable homicide.


  1. Section 279 of the IPC deals with the offense of rash driving or riding on a public way. Under this section, a person can be punished with imprisonment up to 6 months, or a fine up to ₹1,000, or both, if their rash or negligent driving endangers human life or is likely to cause hurt or injury to others.
  2. Section 337 of the IPC deals with the hurt caused by a rash or negligent act that endangers the life or personal safety of people. The only difference lies here is that, Section 337 deals with the negligent or rash acts which causes ‘Hurt’ regarding Section 319 of IPC,1860 whereas Section 279 explicitly deals with negligent or rash driving ,the same view was emphasised in the case of  State v. Balkishan (2013).
  3. Section 338 which deals with cases where  Individuals causing ‘Grievous Hurt’ regarding Section 320 through rash or negligent acts endangering human life or others’ safety may face imprisonment, upto 2 years and a fine upto 1000 Rs  .


Civil liability in hit-and-run cases involves holding the responsible driver accountable through personal injury or wrongful death claims. For personal Damage Claims, the injured party must prove the driver’s fault, using evidence such as witness statements and police reports, to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. That is it is to be showed that there existed a Duty of care which was breached by the defendant and caused harm to the Victim .

Hit-and-run accidents annually result in numerous deaths and serious injuries, often leaving victims without the financial means for necessary medical treatment. To mitigate this issue, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, effective from September 1, 2019, introduced enhanced compensation measures for victims.

This amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 focuses on improving road safety, environmental health, vehicle standards, and road maintenance. Importantly, it also significantly increases compensation for hit-and-run victims. Under Section 161, the compensation for fatalities was raised from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 2 lakhs, while for serious injuries it was increased from Rs. 12,500 to Rs. 50,000.

Moreover, Section 161(4) requires the central government to establish a scheme, administered by the General Insurance Council, detailing the application process and related compensation matters. Non-compliance with Section 161 can lead to penalties, including up to two years of imprisonment and fines ranging from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 5 lakhs. The Act also provides for interim relief, offering immediate financial assistance for urgent personal or medical expenses before the final compensation is awarded.


The case of State Of Maharashtra vs Salman Salim Khan & Anr on 18 December, 2003

 exposed significant gaps in laws regarding hit-and-run incidents. 

Background  :

 Initially charged under Section 304A for rash and negligent driving, the case against Salman Khan was later escalated to Section 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) in 2003 by the Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate Court. The Sessions Court had previously rejected this but was overruled by the Supreme Court, which found it premature to dismiss the charges. 

Evidences and Arguments : 

During the investigation, Khan’s bodyguard and key witness, Ravindra Patel, died of tuberculosis. Patel had filed the first FIR, claiming Khan was driving. However, Khan denied this, stating his driver Ashok Singh took over after his left door jammed. Khan denied drinking on the night of the accident, though witnesses and bills suggested otherwise. Chemical analysis indicated he was drunk. Additionally, singer Kamaal Khan, a key witness, was not called to testify, raising suspicions of deliberate omission. Advocate Abha Singh argued that the police covered up critical evidence by not examining Kamaal Khan and by bringing in the wrong doctors, leading to delays. Furthermore, important case documents were reported missing by the police. In a dramatic turn, Khan’s driver, Ashok Singh, confessed 13 years later that he was driving, not Khan. 


The Sessions Court sentenced Khan to five years, but he received interim bail from the Bombay High Court. In December 2015, the Bombay High Court overturned the conviction, citing insufficient evidence to prove Khan’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court found inconsistencies in witness testimonies and evidence, ultimately ruling in Khan’s favour. 

Legal Reasoning : 

Existing laws under the IPC allowed perpetrators of hit-and-run incidents to easily flee the scene and quickly secure anticipatory bail, leaving victims without timely medical assistance or police notification, especially if incidents occurred at night or in isolated areas. This often resulted in victims missing the critical ‘golden hour’ for receiving life-saving medical support. Whether it’s a Celebrity star or a Rich brat son of an influential opulent family , Social status always able to hinder or impacts the Legal phenomenon only Because there are Serious Lapses in Indian Statutes regarding Hit and Run Cases , Such as : 

  1. Inadequate Enforcement: The laws are not effectively enforced, with many drivers involved in hit-and-run incidents going unpunished. Also despite the rule that a driving License is a must and cannot be assigned to a minor person and driving of vehicle by a minor is prohibited, Lack of supervision and adequate monitoring mechanisms leads to inevitable tragedies. 
  2. Absence of Unambiguous Definition of “Hit-and-Run”: The rules that are in place right now do not clearly define what happens in a hit-and-run situation. This uncertainty may cause misunderstandings and uneven legal implementation. 
  3. Insufficient Penalties: The penalties for hit-and-run cases are not stringent enough, which are generally upto 2 years of imprisonment in most cases of hit and run unless an element of culpable homicide is not there thus making it a summons case and not a warrant case and are generally Bailable in Nature .


 The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS), replacing the outdated Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) would be enforced soon from 1st day of July ,2024 followed a thorough review by the 5th Law Commission led by Mr. K.V.K. Sundaram, resulting in a modernized penal code aligned with contemporary rights and societal needs. The BNS focuses on improving laws related to offences against women, children, and the State, introducing innovative penalties like community service for minor crimes. It also updates fines and punishments across various offences, marking a significant overhaul in India’s legal framework.

The newly enacted law under section 106 (says) “Whoever causes death of any person by rash and negligent driving of vehicle not amounting to culpable homicide, and escapes without reporting it to a police officer or a Magistrate soon after the incident, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

The above provision gives off a more clear and concise definition as to what will constitute the offence and lefts less chance of ambiguity, also it penalizes offence comparatively better than the existing laws making it a more effective and deterrent method making the offence a warrant case.

But still there is a paramount necessity of framing such rules and policies which can elevate the supervision mechanisms and thus there can be an effective implementation of motor vehicle laws and other criminal statutes.


In conclusion, while progress is being made in improving legal frameworks, there remains a critical need for robust policies and rigorous enforcement measures to protect road users effectively and ensure justice in cases involving luxury cars and road safety. The way social status affects legal outcomes in accidents involving luxury cars reveals a troubling truth: disparities in justice can arise due to inadequate laws and loopholes. Recent tragic incidents in Indian cities highlight this, where accidents with high-performance vehicles often lead to serious consequences, yet those responsible may escape full accountability. The core issue lies not just in social influence but also in the gaps within current motor vehicle laws. To tackle these challenges effectively, several steps can be taken. Firstly, there’s an urgent need for stricter enforcement of existing laws to ensure all drivers face appropriate consequences for reckless driving, regardless of their social status. Secondly, strengthening the legal framework by closing loopholes and providing clearer definitions for hit-and-run incidents would establish a stronger basis for prosecution. Moreover, increasing public awareness and education on road safety, especially among luxury car owners, could promote responsible driving habits. Additionally, utilizing technology for better monitoring and enforcement could help reduce accidents and ensure swift justice when violations occur. Ultimately, while social status may influence outcomes to some degree, the primary focus should be on improving and implementing robust motor vehicle laws that leave no room for evasion or injustice. By addressing these issues comprehensively, India can move towards a safer and fairer road environment for everyone.

Luxury cars and Road Safety: A Deadly Impact of Social Status on Legal Outcomes or Merely a Lacuna in Motor Vehicle Laws?

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