Death of the owner of the vehicle is not a ground to evade the liability of the Insurer

Himachal Pradesh High Court– Considering the appeal with regard to grant of compensation to the claimants, a bench of Mansoor Ahmad Mir CJ, dismissed the appeal and held that the rights of victims of vehicular accidents cannot be defeated on flimsy grounds and the courts should not succumb to the procedural wrangles and tangles, technicalities and mystic maybes which in any way defeat the rights of the claimants. The Court observed that the aim and object of granting compensation is for the benefit of the victims/ persons, from whom the source of dependency has been taken away and who have lost their source of income and are deprived of the love and affection and hope of future because of the death of their kith and kin. The Court further noted that the Courts or the Tribunals have to decide such matters as early as possible, that too, summarily in terms of the mandate of Chapter XII of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 which provides mechanism to determine claim petitions and appeals. The Court also laid great emphasis on Sections 146, 155, 169, 176 of the MV Act and through a series of leading judgments discussed the necessity of insurance of motor vehicles against third party risks.

In the instant case, the deceased was the victim of a vehicular accident caused by Respondent 1(owner/driver who died and whose name was struck off the Order). The claimants hence filed a claim petition for grant of compensation. Appellant-insurer resisted the claim petition and the award by the Tribunal, hence this petition.

On the issue of abatement of the claim petition in view of death of Respondent 1 raised by the learned counsel for the appellant, Ashwani K. Sharma, the Court held that the appeal had not abated on the failure to bring the legal representatives of the deceased owner on record. The claimants in the present case were represented by learned counsels, Sanjeec Kuthiala & Ms. Ambika Kotwal. United India Insurance Company Ltd. v. Brijbala, 2015 SCC OnLine HP 576, decided on 20.3.2015

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