Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dr D.Y. Chandrachud, J. delivered the judgment for CJ Deepak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, J. and himself whereby an appeal filed by parents of the deceased driver against the judgment of Karnataka High Court was allowed.

The appellants were parents of deceased driver who died in a road accident. Earlier, appellants had filed a claim petition seeking compensation under Section 163A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (Belgaum), by its award, allowed a claim Rs 4,60,800. The respondent-insurer preferred an appeal, against the award of the Tribunal, before the High Court. The High Court, vide judgment impugned herein, held that the deceased driver was himself a tortfeasor and responsible for causing the accident, allowed the insurer’s appeal and set aside the order of the Tribunal. Aggrieved thus, the appellants filed the present appeal.

The Supreme Court, at the outset, observed that the matter that arose for consideration was no longer res integra and was covered by the Supreme Court decision in United India Insurance Company Ltd. v. Sunil Kumar, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1443, wherein it was held that to permit the insurer’s defence of negligence on part of the victim, and/or to understand that Section 163A allows such a defence, would be inconsistent with the legislative object behind introduction of the provision. Further, the object of the provision is to provide a final compensation within a limited time frame on the basis of structured formula, to overcome situations where the claims of compensation on the basis of fault liability was taking an unduly long time. Basing its judgment on the decision referred, the present Bench held that in a proceeding under Section 163A of MV Act, the insurer cannot raise any defence of negligence on the part of the victim to counter a claim of compensation. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed, the judgment impugned was set aside, and order of the Tribunal was restored. [Shivaji v. United India Insurance Co., 2018 SCC OnLine SC 877, dated 09-08-2018]