Chennai: The Madras high court has asked the police why they were not arresting drunken drivers and asked the Central and state governments why they had not found a source of revenue other than liquor so that prohibition could be imposed. “Liquor is the reason for many social evils. Yet, the governments are opening liquor shops to get revenue. In Tamil Nadu about 6,850 Tasmac outlets earn about Rs30,000 crore per year. In 2013 drunken driving caused 20,290 accidents, killing 6,463 people and injuring 20,091. In Tamil Nadu 2,764 accidents occurred due to alcohol, causing 718 deaths. These are man made and avoidable,” said Justice N. Kirubakaran.
On February 19, 2011, B. Ramkumar was driving a two-wheeler, with B. Arunkumar riding pillion. An MTC bus collided into their vehicle on MG Road at the junction of Adyar LB Road, killing them. Their dependents claimed compensation. The postmortem revealed that Ramkumar was drunk and the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal therefore fixed 20 per cent liability on him and 80 per cent on the bus driver and awarded Rs 9.25 lakh to Ramkumar’s legal heirs and Rs11.34 lakh to Arunkumar’s. Dissatisfied with this, the dependents filed the present appeals.
The judge said that the facts of the case were making the court go into the issue of drunken driving as it was causing more accidents and resulting in more deaths.The judge said that the number of vehicles had increased over the past 10 years from 62,09,037 as on April 1, 2003 to 1,82,86,774 as on January 1, 2014 in Tamil Nadu.In the last three years Tamil Nadu had recorded an increasing number of road fatalities caused by drunk drivers.
Tamil Nadu recorded the fifth highest number of cases in 2011 and reached third place this year. TN topped in road accidents because of poor law enforcement, the judge added.“There is nothing to debar people from drinking when prohibition is not there. People can buy liquor and consume it at home. The problem arises when people drive vehicles after consumption of alcohol, endangering their own lives and that of others. Seventy per cent of road fatalities are caused by drunken driving.
So there is a close connection between drunken driving and road accidents, and the rulers, bureaucrats, law enforcing agencies and all other stake holders have to take appropriate measures to prevent drinking and drunken driving,” the judge added.