Architect Can’t Be Prosecuted U/S 304A IPC For Death Of Construction Worker In On-Site Accident: Karnataka High Court
[21 June 2022] The Karnataka High Court quashed criminal proceedings pending against an Architect, observing that it would be too far to stretch Section 304A of the IPC to contend that a person who had designed the house is responsible for death of a worker while undertaking construction under a contractor. Section 304A penalises causing death by negligence. A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna allowed the petition filed by Vishwas V. and observed, “The petitioner, as stated earlier, is an Architect who had designed the building and had given it to the owner in terms of the agreement. The owner had entrusted the work of construction to accused No.1 under whom the worker on the day working and the unfortunate incident of his death happened. It cannot be said that the design of the house by the petitioner was an act of rash or negligence that had caused the death of the worker.”
The bench noted Section 304A of the IPC has two components in it. The result of death should be out of rash or negligent act by the accused. Section 304A of the IPC mandates that whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide be punished. Therefore, the act should be either rash or negligent.
Following which it observed, “It would be too far to stretch Section 304A of the IPC to contend that a person who had designed the house is responsible for the death of a worker while undertaking construction under a contractor.”
Relying on the Apex court judgment in the case of Ambalal D.Bhatt V. State Of Gujarat, (1972) 3 SCC 525, the bench held, “By no stretch of imagination the petitioner can be hauled into the proceedings for offences punishable under Section 304A of the IPC in the light of the fact that he was in any way neither responsible for construction nor was he present at the place of construction nor even had any proximity to the act which was either rash or negligent.”
Accordingly, it allowed the quashing petition.