Allahabad High Court: Dr Kaushal Jyendra Thaker, J., decided an appeal with regard to the claim petition being filed beyond 6 months and the same being dismissed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal on the said ground in light of Section 166(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act as amended in 2019.
The instant appeal was filed at the behest of claimants whose claim petition came to be dismissed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal holding it barred by limitation as the accident took place on 24-12-2019 and the petition was filed on 20-08-2010 (sic).
The claim petition by MACT was dismissed on the ground of filing of the same beyond 6 months of the date when the accident took place.
The above-stated claim was barred under provisions of Section 166 (3) of the Motor Vehicle Act as amended in 2019.
It has been contended in the present appeal that the Tribunal mechanically held that amended Section 166 (3) of the MV Act subscribes a period of 6 months for filing claim petition and hence the matter could not be entertained.
Appellants counsel submitted that question of law is involved in the present appeal and hence contended that the order of the Tribunal was passed against the settled principle of law.
Further, it was submitted that the instant matter could be viewed from three angles:
Extension of Limitation Period
- The accident took place in December 2019, even if the assumption made by the Tribunal that Section 166 (3) had been notified and is made applicable is considered, six months’ period would be over during the pandemic. But the pandemic struck us in the month of March, 2020 and the Supreme Court by an omnibus order extended the period of limitation. This aspect should have also been looked into by the Judge. Various orders in reference to the extension of limitation were passed in light of the lockdown.
Therefore it appears that the order passed by the tribunal was done in sheer haste.
No Limitation Period
- Another aspect to be appreciated was, even if the provisions of Section 166(3) of the MV Act, 2019 were brought on the statute book, Judge could have seen the matter from a different angle that there is substitution of Section 163A with Section 164, where no period of limitation has been prescribed.
Evaluation of the Gazette of India with regard to Amendment Act 2019
- The third Aspect was that though Section 166(3) of the MV Act was notified but what exactly is the current position of the said provision.
Concluding the instant matter, Bench noted that the provisions under Section 140 of the Principal Act which speaks about the liability of the Owner and/or Insurer to pay compensation in certain cases on the principle of no-fault, Section 163-A of the Principal Act which provides for the special provisions as to payment of compensation based on a structured formula and under Section 166 of the Principal Act which states that legal representative/s can continue to prefer any of the application mentioned hereinabove for compensation as Sections 140, 163-A and 166 of the Principal Act would continue to operate with full vigor till the time Section 51 to 57 of the Amendment Act are notified in the Official Gazette.
Court enquired from the State Law Officer, Mr Ojha in regard to the position of Section 166(3) of the MV Act and he stated that the same has not been brought on the statute book. Section 166 of the 1998 Act would still govern the litigation as of today.
Hence, High Court held that the alternatives were available for MACT, yet it passed the order in sheer haste of disposal while losing sight of the aspects stated above.
Bench directed Virjendra Kumar Singh, Presiding Officer, MACT to remain more vigilant in future while deciding the claim petition under beneficial legislation.
Judgment/Order passed by the Tribunal was quashed and set aside by the Court and the claim petition has been asked to restore. Further, the Court directed the Tribunal to proceed as per Section 166 read with Section 168 of the MV Act as till date amended section dealing with Chapter X, XI, XII of the Act have not been brought on statute book substituting the earlier provision. [Shailendra Tripathi v. Dharmendra Yadav, 2020 SCC OnLine All 1360, decided on 20-11-2020]
Counsels for the Parties:
Appellant: Yogesh Kumar Tripathi, Sanjay Kumar Singh
Respondent: Rahul Sahai