Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: V.G. Arun, J., while partly allowing the instant petition held that offence under Section 185 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 would be attracted only when alcohol content is detected through breath analyser test or in any other test including a laboratory test.

The petitioner was an accused of offences under Sections 279 and 337 of IPC and Section 185 of the MV Act. Allegation against the petitioner was that he had driven his car in a rash and negligent manner so as to endanger human life and had dashed against another car, resulting in the driver and passenger of the other car sustaining injuries. The petitioner was arrested and subjected to medical examination, upon which the doctor opined that the petitioner smelled of alcohol.

Contention of the petitioner was based on the ground that the offence under Section 185 would be attracted only if alcohol content was detected through breath analyser test.  The petitioner, while relying on Sagimon v. State of Kerala, 2014 SCC OnLine Ker 12726, contended that no such test having been conducted, the entire prosecution was illegal.

Noticing that the doctor’s certificate was with regard to the injuries sustained by the petitioner and others as a result of the accident and no mention was made about breath analyser test or any other test conducted for the purpose of finding the alcohol content in the petitioner’s blood the Court clarified as per Section 185, whoever, while driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle has in his blood alcohol exceeding 30 mg per 100 ml of blood detected in a test by a breath analyser or in any other test including a laboratory test, is liable for punishment. Therefore, in order to attract the offence under Section 185(a), the accused should have been subjected to a breath analyser or any other test including a laboratory test to ascertain that his blood found to contain alcohol exceeding 30 mg per 100 ml. Therefore, it was held that the petitioner could not be prosecuted and the petition was allowed to the limited extent of quashing further proceedings against the petitioner under Section 185 of the MV Act. [Manoj Kumar K. v. State of Kerala, Crl. MC. No. 4820 of 2020(B), decided on 08-01-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker, J., modified the sum of the award granted to a widow by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

The instant appeal was filed challenging the judgment and award passed by the Additional District Judge wherein the sum of Rs 70,000 with an interest of rate 7% was awarded.

Brief facts

The deceased was 62 years of age at the time of the accident. The claimant was the sole surviving legal heir of the deceased. Further, it was added that the deceased was a retired railway employee and was getting pension.

In view of the above circumstances, the pension was halved and the widow was getting Rs 14,000 which shows that she lost Rs 14,000 because of the sad demise of her husband.

MACT awarded a sum of Rs 70,000 while relying on the decision of Supreme Court in National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680 holding that there was no loss of income.

Further tribunal held that claimant was the legal heir and legal representative of the deceased, the deceased was 62 years of age whose income was shown to be Rs 30,000 per month but no document was produced, hence tribunal did not believe the income to the deceased to be Rs 30,000.

Tribunal also added to its observation that the deceased had been receiving the pension of Rs 28,000 and after his death, family pension of Rs 14,000 is being received by the claimant herself.

Therefore, as the deceased was getting Rs 28,000/- approx as a pension, 50% of the same he would be spending on himself and, therefore, Rs 14,000 would be the monthly datum figure available to the widow.

Issue:

Can the claimant a widow who receives family pension be deprived of compensation is the main question which arises for consideration. If the answer to it is in the negative, what compensation is she entitled to?

Bench stated that, Tribunal ought to have considered the fact that had her husband survived, she would have got a sum of Rs 28,000 per month which has now been halved. Court stated that the multiplier applicable would be ‘7’ as the deceased was in the age bracket of 61-65 years in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation, (2009) 6 SCC 121 which has been not considered by the Tribunal and has given reasonings which can be said to be questionable.

Further, relying on the decision of this Court in Regional Manager, UPSRTC v. Nisha Dubey, First Appeal from Order No. 3154 of 2013, no deduction from the pension is allowed.

In view of the above, total compensation of Rs 4,97,000 would be granted.

As far as the issue of rate of interest is concerned, it should be 7.5% in view of the latest decision of the Supreme Court in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Mannat Johal, (2019) 15 SCC 260.

The claimant is the widow of a railway officer and, therefore, she is not illiterate, hence, all the amount need not be invested but shall be transferred to her account.

In view of the above, the appeal was partly allowed. [Subhadra Pandey v. Siddharth Agrawal, First Appeal From Order No. 1237 of 2018, decided on 07-12-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: S. Kumar, J. dismissed the appeal filed by the insurance company on the grounds that the parties were liable severally as well as jointly. Although the company had the right to recover such compensation paid from the other party involved in the accident for which insurance was being claimed.

A miscellaneous appeal was filed under Section 173 of Motor Vehicle Act by the appellant against the Judgment and Award passed by the 1st Additional District Judge-cum-Motor Accident Claim Tribunal, Saran at Chapra in Claim Case No. 22 of 2002, by which the learned Claims Tribunal directed the appellant to pay a sum of Rs 3,50,000 to the claimant with interest @ 6 % per annum from the date of claim case till its realization.

The claimant was the husband of one Parwati Devi who died in a motor accident while travelling on a Commander Jeep which collided with another Commander Jeep on 19-09-2001 at about 10:00 PM The deceased was seriously injured and while she was being taken to hospital she succumbed to the injuries. An FIR was instituted under Sections 279, 338 and 304-A of the Penal Code against the drivers of both the vehicles and after investigation the police found the case to be true against drivers of both vehicles.

The appellant had appeared and had filed their written statement in which they denied the claim of claimants. The tribunal, after having examined the material brought on as evidence, held that the deceased died due to rash and negligent driving by the drivers of both vehicles and there was composite negligence on part of both the drivers. The Tribunal had further held that it was a case of composite negligence and the claimant was entitled to claim the compensation amount from either the owner or the insurer of the vehicle and had directed the appellant who was the insurer, to pay compensation.

High Court did not find any error or infirmity in the order passed by the tribunal and as such present appeal was dismissed as a liability to pay the compensation was joint and as well as several. However, since there was a specific finding of the tribunal that there was composite negligence on part of drivers of both the vehicles as such the appellant was entitled to recover 50% of the compensation amount paid to the claimant from the owner /insurer of the other offending vehicle.

In view of the above noted facts, the instant appeal was dismissed with the directions that the insurance company had to pay the balance claim amount with interest @ 6% from the date of presentation of claim till its realization within one month from the receipt of a copy of order passed by the court with a right of recovery of 50% of the compensation amount so paid from the owner /insurer of the other offending vehicle.[New India Assurance Co. Ltd v. Kanchan Bhagat, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1737, decided on 02-09-2019]

Case Briefs

Supreme Court: Deciding the question involving the permissible alteration in a Motor Vehicle in view of the provisions contained in section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Rule 126 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and the effect of Rules 96, 103 and 261 of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, the bench of Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran, JJ held:

“No vehicle can be altered so as to change original specification made by manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered which have been specified by the manufacturer for the purpose of entry in the certificate of registration.”

The Court said that the Rules are subservient to the provisions contained in section 52 of the MV Act and what is prohibited therein. It was clarified that

“No doubt about it that the vehicle has to be in conformity with the rules also but Rules cannot be so interpreted so as to permit the alteration as prohibited under section 52(1) of the Act. The alteration under the Rules is permissible except as prohibited by section 52.”

The Court noticed that Section 52 of the MV Act has undergone change by way of Amendment Act 27/2000 with the purpose to prohibit alteration of vehicles in any manner including change of tyres of higher capacity, keeping in view road safety and protection of environment. It said:

“The amended section 52(1) has specified the extent to which vehicle cannot be altered. A reading of the provisions makes it clear that no vehicle can be altered in a manner where particulars in the certificate of registration are at variance with those “originally specified by the manufacturer”.”

The Court further explained:

“The emphasis of section 52(1) is not to vary the “original specifications by the manufacturer”. Remaining particulars in a certificate of registration can be modified and changed and can be noted in the certificate of registration as provided in section 52(2), (3) and (5) and the Rules. Under section 52(5), in case a person is holding a vehicle on a hire purchase agreement, he shall not make any alteration except with the written consent of the original owner.”

[Regional Transport Officer v. K. Jayachandra, CIVIL APPEAL NOS.  219­222 OF 2019), decided on 09.01.2019]