Rajasthan High Court: In a case wherein the appellant had filed an appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (‘MV Act’) to set aside of award dated 22-05-2001 passed by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’) Beawar, Ajmer, by which a direction had been issued to the appellant to pay compensation of Rs. 4,38,000 with interest at rate 9% per annum to the claimants-respondents from the date of filing the claim petition, Anoop Kumar Dhand, J., directed the Tribunal to recalculate the amount of compensation as per the provisions of Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 (‘WC Act’). The Court held that the liability of the appellant would be restricted to that arising under the WC Act and Respondent 5, the owner would be liable to satisfy the remaining part of the award.
The deceased was driving trolla, when the driver of the truck caused the accident on 24-12-1999 due to which the driver of trolla died and two others sustained injuries.
The legal representatives of the deceased driver filed a claim under Section 163-A of MV Act for compensation of Rs. 11,22,000 before the Tribunal. The appellant submitted that the claim was not maintainable and at the most the appellant could be held responsible for liability under the provisions of the WC Act. Subsequently, the claim was allowed, and the appellant was directed to pay Rs. 4,38,000 to the claimants-respondents with interest at rate 9% per annum.
Thereafter, the appellant filed an appeal and contended that the deceased himself was driving the insured vehicle, and hence, he could not be covered under the Insurance Policy as per the proviso contained under Section 147(1) of the MV Act and the claimants-respondents would be entitled to claim compensation only under the WC Act.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court analyzed the proviso to Section 147(1) of the MV Act, and opined that the perusal of the provision clearly indicated that when the driver of the insured vehicle was plying the said vehicle, and if such vehicle met with an accident, then the liability of the appellant would be restricted to payment of compensation under the provisions of WC Act.
The Court relied on, National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Prem Bai Patel, (2005) 6 SCC 172 and Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Meena Variyal, (2007) 5 SCC 428, and opined that in view of the provisions contained under proviso attached to Section 147(1) of the Act, this Court was unable to uphold that the appellant was liable to make compensation under Section 163A of the MV Act when the vehicle was driven by the deceased driver himself, in the course of employment of the owner of the vehicle, therefore, the liability of the appellant in terms of Insurance Policy would have to be restricted to the one enforceable under the WC Act.
The Court allowed the appeal and gave direction to the Tribunal to recalculate the amount of compensation as per the WC Act. The Court held that the liability of the appellant would be restricted to that arising under the WC Act and Respondent 5, the owner would be liable to satisfy the remaining part of the award. The Court clarified that till the award was calculated, the amount received by the claimants-respondents should not be recovered. Further, if less amount was calculated in accordance with the WC Act, the claimants-respondents would be bound to return the excess amount received by them to the appellant.
Accordingly, the Court disposed of the stay application.
[New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Gian Singh, 2023 SCC OnLine Raj 1303, Order dated 24-07-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
For the Appellant: Mudit Singhvi and Vineet Mehta for Ashok Mehta, Advocates;
For the Respondents: J.P. Gupta, Advocate.