Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: In an appeal filed by The New India Assurance Co. Ltd. (appellant), challenging the order passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Pune wherein the Tribunal awarded compensation to the insurance company considering negligence of driver of the offending vehicle, S G Dige, J., partly allowed the appeal and upheld the negligence of the driver.

The incident happened when the deceased was travelling in the offending car with his friend, due to burst of tyre, the said car toppled. Counsel for appellant submitted that burst of tyre is an act of God and it was not negligence of driver of the offending vehicle. The driver of the offending vehicle cannot be considered liable for it, but the Tribunal has not considered this fact. It was also submitted that the consortium amount and amount under other heads is awarded on higher side.

The Court noted that the dictionary meaning of “act of god” is “an instance of uncontrollable natural forces in operation”. It refers to a severe, unanticipated natural event for which no human is responsible. Thus, the bursting of tyre cannot be termed as an act of God. It is an act of human negligence like high speed, under inflated or over inflated tyres, second-hand tyres, temperature etc. The driver or owner of the vehicle must check the condition of tyre before travelling, thus, burst of tyre cannot be termed as a natural act, it is due to human negligence.

On the aspect of excess compensation, the Court observed that the Tribunal has awarded an amount of Rs. 1,00,000 to applicant 1 for loss of consortium and Rs. 25,000 for funeral expenses, Rs. 1,00,000 towards loss of love and affection, so the total of it comes to Rs. 2,25,000. Placing reliance on Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram, (2018) 18 SCC 130, wherein Rs. 1,90,000 was paid as compensation, the Court opined that the amount awarded by the Tribunal i.e., Rs. 2,25,000 is deducted from Rs. 1,90,000/-, it comes to Rs. 35,000, which will be an excess amount.

Thus, the Court permitted the appellant to withdraw the amount of Rs. 35,000/- along with accrued interest thereon.

[The New India Assurance Co Ltd v Mrunal Makarand Patwardhan, 2023 SCC OnLine Bom 669, decided on 17-02-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. D. R. Mahadik for the Appellant;

Mr. Rohan Mahadik i/b Juris Parthners for Respondent 1 to 4;

Mr. Veerdhaval Kakade for Respondent 5.

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