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Indian-origin man jailed in Singapore for causing fatal accident while driving without licence

Singapore: A 70-year-old Indian-origin man was sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail and banned from holding or obtaining all classes of driving licence for eight years upon release for killing a cyclist in an accident in 2021.

Bhagwan Tulsidas Binwani did not have his driving licence validated after he turned 65, and he continued driving for the next three years till the fatal accident. The court also fined him SGD 3,800.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of causing the death of Khan Suruj, a 54-year-old construction worker, while driving without reasonable consideration for other road users, reported The Straits Times.

Binwani also admitted to two other charges of driving without a valid licence and driving without valid insurance.

The court heard that Binwani, who operates textile wholesaler Binwanis Enterprises, drove a van registered to the company. However, he has not held a valid driving licence since he turned 65 on August 22, 2018.

On December 27, 2021, around 5 pm, Binwani was driving the van along Jurong Port Road in the direction of Corporation Road, western industrial region of Singapore. He turned into a slip road to Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim, and did not slow down as he approached a zebra crossing.

As a result, the van hit Suruj, who had cycled onto the zebra crossing. The impact caused Suruj to fly off the bicycle and land a short distance away.

Suruj was taken to a hospital, but died around 4 am the next day from traumatic brain injuries.

District Judge John Ng said that the court’s approach to sentencing has to focus not on the intention but more on the consequence.

“No decent driver wants to get into any traffic accident and no one wants to make any mistakes leading to the death of another human being,” the TODAY newspaper quoted the judge as saying.

He added that the main failure of Binwani was his failure to keep a lookout and not slowing down at the slip road as he approached the zebra crossing.

However, the judge noted that the deceased had reduced Binwani’s culpability somewhat by not stopping and looking for oncoming traffic before using the zebra crossing, as required by the road rules.

Although this mitigating circumstance is not as significant, the judge said this had reduced the time and opportunity for Binwani to spot Khan at the zebra crossing.

Court documents revealed that as early as 10 weeks before Binwani’s 65th birthday, Traffic Police (TP) sent a letter to his registered address informing him to undergo a compulsory medical examination to validate his driving licence. But he was late in doing so and failed to follow up with proper submission.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Pavithra Ramkumar asked the court to impose a high fine for driving without a valid licence, and three to six months’ imprisonment for the charge involving the cyclist’s death.

Ramkumar said Binwani’s plea of guilt did not reflect genuine remorse, as he continued to blame Suruj for the incident.

The cyclist had the right of way, and Binwani’s failure to notice him was the sole cause of the accident, the prosecutor said.

(Published 27 October 2023, 03:45 IST)

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