[MV Act] Kar HC | MACT must proactively invoke power under S. 165 Evidence Act, in case of inability of claimants to produce treating doctors as witnesses

Karnataka High Court: H. T. Narendra Prasad J. allowed the appeal stating that the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal has ample powers under Section 165 of the Evidence Act to summon a court witness and this power must be exercised proactively.

The facts of the case are such that the claimant who is student studying in Government Polytechnic College and while returning boarded a bus and when she was about to get down from the bus and while her one step was down the driver without any signal moved the bus and the girl fell down sustaining multiple and grievous injuries and was hospitalized thereafter for treatment. A claim petition was filed before the Tribunal and compensation was granted of Rs. 50,000. Being aggrieved by the meagre amount of compensation, instant appeal was filed.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that the claimant was about 18 years of age at the time of the accident and was studying in Govt. Polytechnic College but due to the accident, has sustained fractures and various other body injuries. It was further submitted that merely because the doctor was not examined the Tribunal has not granted any compensation under the ‘loss of future income’ and hence it is not justified in granting meagre compensation of Rs. 50,000 and therefore the appeal should be allowed.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the claimant has not examined the treating doctor for assessment of disability and therefore the Tribunal on the basis of the materials available on record and wound certificate has granted just and reasonable compensation.

The Court relied on the judgment Shri Iqbalahmed v. Patel Integrated Logistics Ltd., ILR 2017 KAR 3045 wherein it was held that in cases where the claimants are unable to examine the treating doctor as witness, the Presiding Officer of the Tribunal shall play a pro-active role in ensuring the presence of the doctors by invoking the power under Section 165 of The Evidence Act.

The Court thus observed that the Motor Vehicles Act is a social beneficial piece of legislation which caters to the need of the claimants. The very scope and object of the Act while dealing with the claim, is to protect and promote the interest pf the claimants. The Act, tries to monetarily compensate the injured and the dependents of the deceased who find themselves in a difficult situation after suffering an accident.

The Court thus held that the matter be remanded back to the Tribunal with a direction to the Presiding Officer of the Tribunal to summon the treating doctor and in case the treating doctor is not available, the matter should be referred to the Medical Board for assessment of disability.

In view of the above, the appeal was allowed.[Kumari H.P. Shobha v. Managing Director, MFA No. 3668 of 2015, decided on 17-01-2020]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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