hindi is official language

Supreme Court: In a transfer petition filed under Section 25 of the Code of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (‘CPC’), the owner of the vehicle (‘petitioner’) was seeking transfer of the claim petition lodged before Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (‘MACT’), Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh to the MACT, Darjeeling, West Bengal, Dipankar Datta, J. dismissed the transfer petition.

The petitioner herein is the defendant in a claim petition lodged before the MACT, Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (‘the Act’). The petitioner was seeking transfer of the claim petition to Darjeeling on the primary ground that accident had taken place at Siliguri in the district of Darjeeling, West Bengal and, therefore, it would be expedient for the MACT at Darjeeling to decide the claim petition.

The Court said that there is no such provision under the Act which mandates the claimants to lodge a compensation application under Section 166 before the MACT having jurisdiction over the area where the accident occurred. On the contrary, the Court said that Section 166(2) provides an option for the claimants to approach the MACT within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the claimants reside or carry on business, or the defendant resides. Additionally, the Court said that no grievance can be raised by the petitioner against the option of the claimants to approach the MACT, Farrukhabad, U.P., a forum that the law permits the claimants to choose. The Court called the petitioner’s contention misconceived and, hence, stands overruled.

Regarding the contention that language could be a barrier, since all the witnesses of the petitioner are from Siliguri, West Bengal, the Court said that there are at least twenty-two official languages in India, and it is no doubt that people speak different languages. However, the Court stated that, Hindi being the national language, it is expected of the witnesses of the petitioner, who would be produced before the MACT, Fatehgarh, U.P. to communicate and convey their version in Hindi. The Court also said that if this contention of the petitioner was to be accepted, it would cause serious prejudice to the claimants who would not be in a position to communicate and convey their version in Bengali.

Thus, the Court dismissed the petitioner’s transfer petition.

[Pramod Sinha v. Suresh Singh Chauhan, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 924, Order Dated: 31-07-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioners: Advocate Sameer Sodhi, Advocate Mahesh Kumar, Advocate Amanpreet Singh Rahi, Advocate Nikhilesh Kumar, Advocate Sunit Kumar Toppo, Advocate Devika Khanna, Advocate V D Khanna, VMZ Chambers.

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