160. Opening or breaking a level crossing gate.—
(1) If any person, other than a railway servant or a person authorised in this behalf, opens any gate or chain or barrier set up on either side of a level crossing which is closed to road traffic, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years.
(2) If any person breaks any gate or chain or barrier set up on either side of a level crossing which is closed to road traffic, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years.
Case study on section 160 – Nagaraj Vs. Union of India
Brief facts: The appellant was a driver working in the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation. On 03.08.2006 at around 11.15 p.m., the appellant while driving the bus hit it against the railway crossing gate KM No.35056, which was set up on the railway line between Chalageri and Ranebennur Railway Stations. Due to the said hit, the railway crossing gate was broken. Section 160(2) of the Railways Act, 1989 provides that if any person breaks any gate or chain or barrier set up on either side of a level crossing which is closed to road traffic, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years. The appellant was, therefore, prosecuted for commission of offence punishable under Section 160(2) of the Railways Act, 1989 by the Principal Civil Judge and 1st Additional JMFC, Ranebennur and pursuant to which FIR No.385/2006) was lodged against him on 04.08.2006 in RPF Police Station, Ranebennur. By order dated 05.04.2011 passed by the 1st Additional JMFC, the appellant was found guilty for commission of the offence for which he was charged 3 and was accordingly sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of six months.
The appellant felt aggrieved and filed appeal before the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Haveri. By order dated 04.03.2016, the Additional District and Sessions Judge dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant resulting in affirmation of his conviction and sentence awarded by the JMFC by his order dated 05.04.2011. The appellant carried the matter further in Revision in the High Court of Karnataka at Dharwad Bench. By impugned order, the High Court dismissed the revision and upheld the appellate order dated 04.03.2016 giving rise to filing of this appeal by way of special leave by the appellant in this Court. 4 10. Heard Mr. Anand Sanjay M. Nuli, learned counsel for the appellant and Mr. R. Balasubramanian, learned counsel for the respondent.
Arguments: The submission of learned counsel for the appellant was threefold. In the first place, he contended that the appellant was wrongly convicted for an offence punishable under Section 160(2) of the Railways Act. According to him, there was no sufficient evidence to prosecute the appellant much less to convict him for an offence punishable under Section 160(2) of the Railways Act.
In the second place, learned counsel contended that in any event, when admittedly there was no injury caused to any human being in the incident except causing some damage to the railway crossing gate, the six months’ jail sentence to the 5 appellant for commission of such offence was not justified. According to him, it was excessive and disproportionate to its nature and the resultant loss caused. It was also urged that the appellant out of six months’ jail sentence has already undergone around one month’s jail sentence and, therefore, in the interest of justice, his jail sentence is liable to be altered and reduced to what he has already undergone.
In the alternative, learned counsel urged that the appellant at the time of commission of offence was hardly 21 years of age and, therefore, keeping in view the totality of the circumstances of the case and the nature of offence, he be released under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.
Judgement: The appeal succeeds and is allowed in part. The conviction of the appellant is upheld but sentence awarded to the appellant is reduced to “what he has already undergone”. In other words, now the appellant is not required to undergo any further jail 9 sentence in this case except what he has already undergone.
The appellant is already on bail, his bail bond is discharged.
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