Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Ananda Sen, J.,  dismissed and held that the amount which has been awarded by the Tribunal with the interest thereupon is just and fair compensation.

The facts of the case are such that the deceased Shashi Kumar Mahato was dashed by an unnumbered maruti omni van which was driven rashly and negligently by Lakshman Nayak, thereafter on the way to taking him to the hospital, the deceased died. The case was registered for offences under Sections 279, 304A of the Penal Code, 1860. The deceased, as per the claim application, was aged about 13 years. According to the claimants they were entitled to a compensation amount of Rs.3, 50,000/- along with interest. Therefore, the claimant-appellant has preferred this appeal for enhancement of the awarded amount passed by the District Judge-III-cum-Presiding Officer, Motor Accident Claim Tribunal, Bermo at Tenughat, Bokaro in Motor Accident Claim Case No.51 of 2011.

Counsel for the claimants submitted that the deceased was 13 years and was having bright future, as such, the Tribunal could not have denied future prospect to the claimants. Counsel appearing for the claimants further submits that the Tribunal has erred in allowing only a meager sum of Rs.10, 000/- on account of funeral expenses and a sum of Rs.15, 000/- towards the loss of love and affection.

Counsel for the Insurance Company submitted that as the deceased was 13 years, his income cannot be assessed nor the claimants can get any amount towards future prospect.

The Court relied on New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Satender, (2006) 13 SCC 60 wherein it was observed,

“12. In cases of young children of tender age, in view of uncertainties abound, neither their income at the time of death for the prospects of the future increase in their income nor chances of advancement of their career are capable of proper determination on estimated basis. The reason is that at such an early age, the uncertainties in regard to their academic pursuits, achievements in career and thereafter in life are so many that nothing can be assumed with reasonable certainty. Therefore, neither the income of the deceased child is capable of assessment on estimated basis nor the financial loss suffered by the parents is capable of mathematical computation.”

 The Court thus held “Considering the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, I feel that there is no need of any interference with the impugned award dated 26.03.2015 passed by the District Judge-III-cum-Presiding Officer, Motor Accident Claim Tribunal, Bermo at Tenughat, Bokaro in Motor Accident Claim Case No.51 of 2011.”

[Tukeshwari Devi v. Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Limited, M.A. No. 118 of 2016, decided on 25-08-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


 Appearances

For the Appellants: Mr Arvind Kumar Lall

For the Respondents: Mr Ashutosh Anand and Mr Satish Kumar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ., and Partha Sarthy, J. slammed Patna Municipal Corporation for operating its vehicles without registration in contravention to provisions of the MV Act. The Bench expressed,

“It is difficult to fathom that Patna Municipal Corporation, a municipal body originally established in 1922, was oblivious of the factum of the requirement of getting 925 vehicles (Approx.) registered under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.”

The instant Public Interest Litigation was filed to apprise the Court that the Municipal Corporation, Patna was operating its vehicle on road for collecting garbage without registration and insurance and in spite of complaint, no actions had been taken by the Corporation.

Observing the provisions of Section 39 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which is very categorical when it states that no person shall drive any motor vehicle and no owner of a motor vehicle shall cause or permit the vehicle to be driven in any public place or in any other place unless the vehicle is registered in accordance with the Chapter and the certificate of registration of the vehicle has not been suspended or cancel and the vehicle carries registration mark display in the prescribed manner, the Bench also referred to Section 192 of the M.V. Act which deals with the penal consequences of using a vehicle without registration.

In Union of India v. Jubbi, (1968) 1 SCR 447, wherein the Supreme Court had held as follows: “…The position now thereof is that a statute applies to State as much it does to a citizen unless it expressly or by necessary implication exempts the State from its operation.” Noticing that there was no provision under the Motor vehicle Act to exempt the State by any express provision or by necessary implication from registration of the vehicles of the State and it was not even the case of the State that the Vehicles of the Corporation were in any manner exempt from registration, the Bench stated,

 “Such vehicles were allowed to be plied in public places for a considerable period, thus potentially jeopardizing public and put interest, endangering human life and property.”

Stating that the Motor Vehicles Act being welfare legislation, was enacted to ensure road safety, compensation for victims of road accidents, third party insurance and health, the Bench emphasised on registration of vehicles as an essential step in achieving objective of the Act. Further, noticing the recent decision of the Supreme Court in Narinder Singh v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd., (2014) 9 SCC 324, wherein the Court had elaborately discussed the need to register vehicles under the Act, the Bench stated, despite the same, the respondent-Corporation, with audacity, took a stand of there being no requirement for the vehicles to be registered, purportedly under a misconception that they are above the law.

Noticing that all the vehicles of the Corporation had been registered, the Bench refrained from passing further direction in this regard however, the State was directed to take appropriate action against the erring officers/officials, who negligent in performing of their statutory duty which, the Bench added, should not be construed to be only of civil nature, but also in relation to the one envisaged under Section 192 of the Act. The directions were crystallized as under:-

  • No vehicle of the Municipal Corporation or its authorities would be plied in derogation of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
  • The Urban Development Department, Government of Bihar should have an enquiry conducted and take appropriate action against the erring officers/officials who were negligent in complying with the statutory provisions by allowing the vehicles to be plied for various purposes in public roads.
  • The disciplinary proceedings must be completed within four months. Simultaneously, the proceedings under Section 192 of the Act should be initiated against the erring officers/officials within a period of four months.

In the Backdrop of above, the petition was disposed of. [Nirbhay Prashant v. State of Bihar, 2021 SCC OnLine Pat 1920, decided on 03-09-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance:

For the Petitioner/s: Mr. Nirbhay Prashant (In Person)

For the State: Mr. Ajay Kr. Rastogi, AAG10, Mr. Sunil Kumar Singh, AC to AAG-10

For the Patna Municipal Corporation: Mr. Jaweb Gaffar Khan, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of Pushpa Sathyanaryana and S. Kannammal, JJ., revised the amount of compensation awarded to the claimant in a motor accident claim and enhanced it from Rs 30,89,430 to Rs 83,35,000.

Instant appeal was preferred challenging the decision and decree of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

Deceased was proceeding in a two-wheeler, driver of the lorry drove the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner, dashed against two-wheeler. Due to the said impact, the deceased sustained injuries and died.

In view of the above, legal heirs – appellants/claimant of the deceased filed claim petition.

Insurance Company submitted that the accident occurred due to the carelessness and negligence on the part of the deceased and the deceased had not possessed any valid driving licence.

Tribunal, after considering the oral and documentary evidence, held that the accident had occurred due to the drunken driving of the deceased and also because of the rash and negligent driving of the driver of the first respondent and fixed the liability at 50:50.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court noted that in the post-mortem report no mention about the presence of alcohol was there.

Court added that having failed to prove that the accident occurred due to the drunken driving of the deceased, contributory negligence of 50% could not be attributed to the deceased.

From the sketch placed on the investigation report, it represented that the deceased was going from South to North on the left extreme of the road and the offending vehicle, namely, the lorry which was coming in the opposite direction hit the deceased and he died. Therefore, even on that ground, negligence cannot be attributed to the deceased.

For proving an offence under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, breath test is mandatory as per Section 203 of the MV Act.

Since the above was not satisfied, it was concluded that the deceased was not in a drunken state.

10% was deducted from the compensation on the ground that the deceased did not possess the valid driving licence

For the above contention, it was stated that he had only a learners licence. It is not the case of the second respondent that a person having LLR cannot ride on the road.

Though it is stated that a person having LLR and riding or driving should have an Instructor with them, it does not disqualify a person from riding a vehicle.

Award of the Tribunal was enhanced to Rs 83,35,000 from 30,89,430.[Kuralvani v. Kathirvelan, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2232, decided on 31-03-2021]


For Advocates before the Court:

For Appellants: Mr.I.Pinaygash

For R – 2 : Mr.B.Rajesh Saravanan

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Ajit Singh, JJ., addressed an interesting question as to whether the tribunal could due to the prolonged litigation re-decide compensation already awarded in an accident claim or it was to confine itself to the objection raised by the owner of the vehicle, which was a liability to pay compensation.

Background

The facts of the instant case were such that the original claimant who was going on his vehicle at 7.45 a.m and was hit by bus bearing No. DL IP 6567 which was being driven by driver rashly and negligently. The injured was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for injuries received due to an accident. On petition being filed for the claim of compensation, summons were issued to the owner of the bus (owner), namely, Manoj Kumar. The insurance company was permitted to contest the petition under Section 170 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. However, due to the non-appearance of the owner, the matter proceeded ex parte and since the insurance of the vehicle was not proved, an award was passed in the favour of the injured on 27-09-2010.

Subsequent Award granted by the Tribunal

Subsequently, during the execution petition, the owner claimed that his vehicle was insured and the insurer would be liable to satisfy the decree. It was further contended by the owner that the summons never reached him, therefore, ex-parte order against him was liable to be set aside in per Order 9, Rule 13 of CPC. Meanwhile, the injured died out of the injuries sustained due to the accident and medical evidence was also filed by his legal representatives (claimant).

The Tribunal permitted owner to produce documents so as to prove that the vehicle was insured and went to decided the matter afresh. The Tribunal on re-appreciation of evidence opined that the deceased died due to kidney failure and disallowed majority of the claim amount under the head of medical expenses on the ground that the documents were not proved and granted paltry sum of Rs. 1,19,000/- as medical expenses as against more than twenty lacs spent by the claimant by the time award dated 27-09-2010 was pronounced. However, regarding the question of liability to pay compensation, the Tribunal had fastened the insurer with the liability.

Earlier, the Tribunal while deciding the claim petition on 27-09-2010, granted medical expenses which came to Rs. 20,84,750, which was rounded up to Rs. 20,16,500/- and loss of five months’ salary for(163 days), which came to Rs. 63,250/- and Rs. 5,000/- for pain shocks and sufferings.

Whether the tribunal was justified in re-deciding the compensation already awarded?

The Tribunal, in subsequent proceedings, went on to hold that the death was due to dialysis which did not had any causal connection with the accident and reduced the compensation on that ground. This finding could not withstand the judicial scrutiny as it was not within the purview of the tribunal to decide how the claimant died while deciding issue relating to negligence and was beyond the purview of the said issue.

It is settled position of law that the award of the Claims Tribunal shall be paid by owner or driver of the vehicle in the accident and they would be indemnified by insurer. The Tribunal committed a mistake rather irregularity by setting aside the award. The Tribunal further committed an error by re-deciding the compensation. The decree could have been set aside in part namely qua issue of liability as it was a award which could be set aside in part there was definitely severable decree. The Bench opined that, one way for the Tribunal to resolve the controversy and avoid prolonged litigation was to direct the owner to pay the compensation and later on have it indemnified by the insurer, or what could have been done was the Tribunal to decide the matter of liability alone rather that re-fixing the compensation as the Tribunal was not even asked to reconsider the question of quantum and interest.

Do personal right of action abate with the death of the person?

Citing the decision in Madhuben Maheshbhai Patel v. Joseph Francis Mewan, 2014 LawSuit (Guj) 2214, the Bench dealt with the issue of applicability of the maxim “actio personalis moritur cum persona”  which translates to on the death of original claimant, personal right of action abates”, The Bench opined that the said maxim could not be imported to defeat the purpose and object of a social welfare legislation like Motor Vehicles Act.

“Once the status of claimants as legal heirs or legal representatives is conceded and acknowledged, to deny benefit of compensation to them on the ground that injury was personal to the claimant, it will be giving a premium to the wrong doer and it would defeat the very purpose and object of beneficial piece legislation.”

Hence, even after death of injured, claim petition does not abate and the right to sue survives to his heirs and legal representatives.

Verdict of the Court

In case of motor accidents, the endeavour is to put the dependents/ claimants in the pre-accidental position. Considering that the injured which was 38 years at the time of the accident,  suffered 40% permanent disability and was in permanent government service earning a sum of Rs. 11500/- per month and that 15 years had already elapsed and 9 years had elapsed after the death of the claimant, the Bench held his medical expenses as granted by the Tribunal in its order dated 27-09-2010 should be maintained entirely. The additional amount of five months’ salary as actual loss to the estate granted by the Tribunal was also maintained.

Further, an award of a lump-sum amount of two lacs of rupees in addition to the compensation as loss to estate and mental harassment to the legal heirs for protracted litigation was also awarded. Since, the injured had passed away, his family was awarded a further sum of two lacs and fifty thousand for loss to estate and additional sum of Rs 50000 for mental trauma and incidental expenses for looking after the deceased after he suffered the injuries. Conclusively, total compensation for a sum of Rs.24,00,000 was granted to the claimant which was to be paid by the insured. As far as issue of rate of interest was concerned, it was held to be 7.5% in view of the latest decision of the Supreme Court in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Mannat Johat, 2019 (2) T.A.C.705 (S.C.) from the date of the filing of the claim petition till the date of actual deposit.[Satish Chand Sharma v. Manoj Kumar, FAFO No. 3160 of 2018, decided on 26-03-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported the brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

Counsel for Appellant: Abhishek, Umesh Kumar Singh
Counsel for Respondent: Nishant Mehrotra

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: Biswanath Rath, J. dismissed both appeals being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the deceased, at about 8 P.M. was proceeding to perform his duty by a bicycle on left side of the road near Balugaon Bazaar on N.H.5 when the offending Truck came in high speed in a rash and negligent manner and dashed against the deceased from his backside resulting in his death.

A claim petition by the claimants i.e. the legal heirs of the deceased was filed seeking compensation which was thereby granted by the Tribunal. Assailing the said order, the insurance company filed one appeal primarily on the question of quantum, and another appeal was filed by the legal heirs for enhancement of compensation

Two appeals have been filed which was collectively taken by the Court and disposed off by the common order.

Counsel for the insurance company Mr G Mishra submitted that the fact of future gain to the family on account of death of the deceased by way of compassionate appointment given to the wife should have also been kept in mind of the Tribunal while granting compensation and future prospects.

Counsel for the claimants Mr KK Das submitted that widow’s compassionate appointment and getting salary/some benefits on the death of her husband not to be deducted from gross income while calculating compensation

The Court relied on judgment Helen C. Rebello v. Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation and observed that  “bank balance, shares, fixed deposits, etc. though are all a pecuniary advantage receivable by the heirs on account of one’s death but all these have no co-relation with the amount receivable under a statute occasioned only on account of accidental death. How could such an amount come within the periphery of the Motor Vehicles Act to be termed as ‘pecuniary advantage’ liable for deduction.”

 The Court further relied on Vimal Kanwar v. Kishore Dan, 2013(3) TAC6 (SC) and observed that “Compassionate appointment” can be one of the conditions of service of an employee, if a scheme to that effect is framed by the service leaving behind the dependents, one of the dependents may request for compassionate appointment to maintain the family of the deceased employee dies in harness. This cannot be stated to be an advantage receivable by the heirs on account of one’s death and have no correlation with the amount receivable under a statute occasioned on account of accidental death.”

The Court thus held “this Court finds none of the grounds agitated by the Insurance Company remains sustainable in the eye of law.” 

The Court further held “the bereaved family got the premature superannuation benefits on the head of the deceased and also an employment under rehabilitation assistance scheme, this Court observes grant of Rs.1,00,000/- towards funeral expenses be considered as compensation towards funeral expenses, loss of estate as well as loss of love and affection. In the above view, this Court is not inclined to grant any further amount on the above heads except directing to treat grant of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh) only towards funeral expenses as expenses on the head of loss of estate and for loss of love and affection as well as loss of consortium”. 

In view of the above, both the appeals were dismissed.[S. Divya v. P. Ramalingeswar, MACA Nos. 593 & 774 of 2016, decided on 05-04-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Parthivjyoti Saikia, J., addressed the instant appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 against the judgment and award dated 30-08-2016 which had been filed for enhancement of award.

The facts of the case were such that on 07-07-2013, one Bimal Kr. Saikia (the deceased) was waiting for a bus on NH-37. He was standing left side of the road in order to take the bus ride back home when the vehicle bearing registration No. AS-01/K-8766 knocked down the deceased. The deceased was immediately shifted to Civil Hospital at Nagaon but he succumbed to his injury there. It was alleged that the accident took place because of the rash and negligent driving of the aforesaid vehicle.

On the basis of the Income Tax return for the financial year 2013-14, the Tribunal had assessed the monthly income of the deceased as Rs 12,619 only and the age of the deceased had been stated as 40 years. The applicant contended that the future prospect of the deceased should have been held at 40% only by the Tribunal and not 50%. Regarding the consortium, funeral expenses, loss of care and guidance for children, the appellant had relied on the decision of Supreme Court in National Insurance Company Limited v. Praynay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the appellant submitted that on the aforesaid heads the claimant was entitled to Rs 70,000 only.

The Bench opined that the monthly income of the deceased had been rightly assessed at Rs 12,619. The Court reiterated,

“Being beneficial legislation, in a claim case under the Motor Vehicle Act strict proof of Income Tax Return may not be mandatory in all circumstances.

Holding that the Tribunal had committed an error because, the deceased being below 40 years of age, only 40% should have been added as future prospect. Regarding compensation under the loss of consortium head, financial expenses head and loss of care and guidance for children head, the Bench held that all together for these three heads the claimants were entitled to Rs 70,000 only.

Hence, the Court held that the claimant was entitled to Rs 21,90,040 only. The appeal was allowed and the appellant was directed to pay Rs 21,90,04 only to the claimant.[Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nitanjali Devi Saikia, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 648, decided on 18-03-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner: Adv. R D Mozumdar

For the Respondent: Adv. A J Sarma

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division bench of Surya Parkash Kesarwani and Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, JJ., expressed that:

The legislative intendment with regard to the mutual exclusion of the rule making powers of the Central and the State Government being clear, the matters falling under Sections 110 and 111 must be construed in a manner so as to maintain the exclusivity, and, a construction which may lead to an overlapping must be eschewed.

Petitioner sought challenge to a circular issued by the Transport Commissioner, U.P., dated 21-02-2020 whereunder directions were issued for inspection of bus/sleeper coaches and to cancel their certificate of fitness in case the vehicles are found to be not in conformity with the prescribed standards.

What is the grievance against the above-stated circular?

The stated circular contained a direction that the registration of buses be made only where the bus/sleeper coaches are in conformity with AIS 052, AIS 119, AIS 139 and AIS 153 standards and upon completion of the particulars specified under Form 22­B.

Another issue raised and challenged is the with regard to the notice issued to the petitioners by the Assistant Regional Transport Officer, Gorakhpur directing them to ensure that their sleeper coaches are in conformity with the specifications under Rules 136-A and 139 of the Uttar Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1998, within 15 days and to submit their vehicles for inspection failing which the certificate of fitness issued to them would be cancelled.

Grounds for Challenge

  • Section 111(2)(a) of the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Central Act, 1988’) provides the domain of the State ­Government for making rules regulating the construction of motor vehicles. Therefore, the power to make rules in this regard has been conferred upon the State Government
  • the consequential notices dated 14.02.2020 issued by the Assistant Transport Officer (Administration), Gorakhpur, are wholly without authority of law.
  • There is no provision under the Uttar Pradesh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1998 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘the U.P. Rules, 1998’), which provides for implementation of AIS­119. In absence of such provisions the requirement of making changes as per standards AIS 119/ AIS 052 ­ 2016, is without the authority of law
  • in the event, the court finds that the circulars and notices are valid and the petitioners are required to comply with it, then some time may be granted to comply with it inasmuch as the period for compliance provided in the notice, was affected by COVID-­19 Pandemic period and as such, no step could be taken.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench noted the provisions contained under Sections 110 and 111 of the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1998 which contain the rule making powers of the Central and the State Government with regard to making rules in respect of construction, equipment and maintenance of motor vehicles and trailers as specified under Sections 110 and 111.

Sections 110 and 111 are in respect of matters which are distinct. Rule 125­C which relates to the subject matter of testing and approval for body building of the buses clearly falls within the domain of the rule making power of the Central Government under Section 110 and not under the rule making power of the State Government under Section 111.

Further, it was observed that there is a separation of the rule making powers of the Central Government and the State Government, with the subject matters being delineated and demarcated and there being no overlapping in regard to the same.

The subject matter of Rule 125­C which is in respect of the body building, testing and approval for body building of the buses, having been held to be within the domain of the rule making power of the Central Government under Section 110 (1), there can be no manner of doubt with regard to their applicability in terms of the provisions contained thereunder to all buses/sleeper coaches, including those which have been registered by the petitioners.

Hence, the Bench decided that the prescription of standards relating to testing and approval for body building of buses/sleeper coaches, as provided under Rule 125­C of the Rules, 1989 are applicable to all buses/sleeper coaches. These standards are also mandatory and an application for registration of a motor vehicle under Rule 47 (1) is to be mandatorily accompanied by a self-certification of compliance of the bus body built on drive away chassis by the bus body builder to the provisions of the Code and practice for bus body design and approval AIS: 052 as amended from time to time.

The notices which have been put to challenge are with regard to directing the petitioners to ensure conformity with prescribed standards and specifications and to submit their vehicles for inspection failing which the fitness certificate would be cancelled. Notices are consequential in nature and are of mandatory nature, therefore the validity of the notices cannot be questioned.

Hence the challenge cannot be sustained.

Court directed the petitioners to submit their response to the notices showing compliance with directions contained in the circulars with a period of 4 weeks from date. [Preeti Dubey v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine All 181, decided on 24-02-2021]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

Counsel for Petitioner:­ Siddharth Nandan, Ramesh Kumar Shukla

Counsel for Respondent :­ A.S.G.I.,C.S.C.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Alok Aradhe and H.T. Narendra Prasad JJ., allowed the appeal stating that the Tribunal is not expected to take or adopt a nicety of a civil or criminal case.

The facts of the case are that the deceased was proceeding on his motorcycle on Mysuru Road when he was dashed against by a Hero Honda motorcycle and due to the impact he fell down, sustained injuries and finally succumbed to them. The claimants filed a petition under Section 166 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 i.e. MV Act for want of compensation which was rejected on grounds of failure to prove the claim before the Tribunal. Aggrieved by the said impugned order, present appeal has been filed.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that the Tribunal has erred in the impugned judgment because the accident occurred due to rash and negligent riding of the Hero Honda motorcycle by its rider and the Tribunal failed to appreciate the eyewitnesses.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the Tribunal is justified in dismissing the claim petition because after considering the evidence of the parties and the materials placed on record it was clear that the deceased died due to self fall and the offending vehicle is not involved in the accident.

The Court relied on the judgment Mangla Ram v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., (2018) 5 SCC 656 wherein it was observed that:

“In Dulcina Fernandes, this Court examined similar situation where the evidence of claimant eyewitness was discarded by the Tribunal and that the respondent, in that case, was acquitted in the criminal case concerning the accident. This Court, however, opined that it cannot be overlooked that upon investigation of the case registered against the respondent, prima facie, materials showing negligence were found to put him on trial. The Court restated the settled principle that the evidence of the claimants ought to be examined by the Tribunal on the touchstone of preponderance of probability and certainly the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt could not have been applied.”

The Court further observed that under the Motor Vehicles Act, the standard of proof is much below than what is required in a criminal as well as in the civil case.

The Court thus held that the impugned judgment was decided only on the basis of the police report and failed to consider the evidence of the eyewitnesses. Hence, the Court remanded the matter for reconsideration.

In view of the above, appeal was allowed.[Rukmini v. N.C. Chandru, MFA No. 332 of 2017, decided on 02-11-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: In an appeal against the order delivered by JMFC, Mallapuram; P. Somarajan, J., allowed the same setting aside the impugned order. The petitioner has been charged for offences punishable under Sections 279 and 338 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 146 read with Section 196 of Motor Vehicles Act (MVA).

The factual matrix in the present matter is such that a crime was registered against the petitioner subsequent to which he was brought before the magistrate on 20-10-2017 even though no summon was served to him. He was made to plead guilty without affording an opportunity to avail legal assistance, probably based on the reason that he ended up injuring a police constable in the accident. Then the judicial magistrate obtained the petitioner’s signature on the examination allegedly done under Section 281 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

The Court observed that very little respect has been shown to the proceedings which is clear from the fact that the JMFC had recorded some things like “μ”, “à”, “2” in place of the answers given by the petitioner-accused to question nos. 1 to 3 respectively, in compliance of Section 281 CrPC. Section 281 clearly states that wherever the accused is examined by a metropolitan magistrate, the magistrate shall make a memorandum of the substance of the examination of the accused in the language of the court and the same shall be signed by the magistrate and form a part of the record.

Section 281 has not been complied with by the magistrate who put some marks in the place of actual answers as if those would constitute the gist of answers given by the accused. These marks do not convey any meaning and are impossible to decipher. Such deliberate laxity cannot be tolerated especially when it’s done by an officer of the court who has full knowledge of its repercussions.

The act is in complete disregard of the legal framework and has been done in bad taste. It appears that the present matter is a fit case of malicious prosecution.

In view of the above, the petition has been allowed by the Court granting relief to the petitioner. The Court has also issued instructions to the magistrate to take up the file, issue a notice to the petitioner-accuses and proceed with caution in accordance with law.[Muhammedali v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 4877, decided on 07-10-2020]


Yashvardhan Shrivastav, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: S.M. Modak, J., examined the jurisdiction of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal in regard to claim made by the insured/owner under a personal accident claim against the insurance company.

Liability of Insurance Company

The circumstance involved in the present appeal about the liability of the insurance company to pay as per clause ‘personal accident cover’ in the insurance policy.

Crux of the issue

What will be the extent of liability of the insurance company when the insured/owner of the Jeep was himself the driver-cum-deceased and when no other vehicle was involved?

Does Motor Accident Claims Tribunal have jurisdiction to decide the above-stated claim?

Legal representative of the deceased claimed compensation from the respondent-Insurance Company from the MACT by invoking the provisions of Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Though MACT had denied the same.

The Insurance Company — respondent had denied their liability. The policy does not cover loss occasioned to the insured person, because he is not the third party.

Withdrawal of earlier claim petition under Section 166 of the M.V. Act and non-maintainability of a fresh petition under Section 163-A of the M.V. Act was also emphasized.

Trial Court held:

“the owner/insured cannot be said to be a third party and hence exonerated the company”.

The correctness of the above-stated decision was challenged.

Scope of the appeal:

1) Whether the Insurance Company is liable to reimburse under the caption personal accident of the insured?

2) Whether the MACT can award compensation?

Bench noted that the Question is always raised whether the registered owner can be said to be a ‘third party’. This question is no more res-integra. There are numerous judgments available in regard to the said issue.

Supreme Court had the occasion to decide the correctness of the decision of the High Court in the case of National Insurance Company Limited v. Ashalata Bhowmik, (2018) 9 SCC 801.

The insurance company was held responsible to pay to the legal representatives of the deceased to driver/owner of the vehicle. Supreme Court reiterated the law regarding the liability of insurance companies in case of the death of the owner/its own insured. When the insured is not liable, the question of liability of the insurer does not arise.

Insurance company relied on the following two decisions:

[Karnataka High Court] Sangeetha Subramani v. Sri Krishna Chari Puttachari,2018 SCC OnLine Kar 3835.

“Whether rider of a two-wheeler (who is not the owner) can claim compensation as a third party for an accident where no other vehicle is involved?”

Claimants were held not entitled to claim compensation under Sections 163-A or 166 of M.V. Act.

[Madras High Court] Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Ltd. v. Ramesh Babu,2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2164

A similar issue was involved in the said case regarding the liability of the insurance company to comply with the promises given as per the personal accident coverage clause of the package policy. MACT allowed the claim. Number of contentions were raised on behalf of the insurance company before the High Court. It includes the jurisdiction of M.A.C.T., entitlement to compensation (more than the maximum limit mentioned in the clause) under the phrase ‘just compensation’. All the contentions were answered in favour of the insurance company and the claim petition was dismissed.

Decision

Bench diverged from the view taken by the Karnataka and Madras High Court on the issue involved.

Supreme Court’s Decision in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Laxmi Narain Dhut, (2007) 3 SCC 700 was found to be relevant in the present matter.

Observation in the case of Laxmi Narain Dhut:

“21. Where the claim relates to own damage claims, it cannot be adjudicated by the insurance company, but it has to be decided by another forum i.e. forum created under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (in short “the CP Act”). Before the Tribunal, there were essentially three parties i.e. the insurer, the insured and the claimants. On the contrary, before the Consumer Forums there were two parties i.e. owner of the vehicle and the insurer. The claimant does not come into the picture. Therefore, these are cases where there is no third party involved”.

High Court stated that the Madras High Court’s view in Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Ltd. v. Ramesh Babu  2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2164 was restricted with the issue of jurisdiction of MACT.

Adding to its observations, Court stated that the provisions of Section 165 of the M.V. Act deal with the jurisdiction of MACT.

When certain conditions are fulfilled, MACT gets jurisdiction. They are:

a) Claim for compensation in respect of accidents.

b) Arising out of use of the motor vehicle.

Section 165 of the M.V. Act nowhere contemplates dealing with a claim only when the policy is obtained under Section 147 of the M.V. Act.

Court held that,

Petition before the MACT will be maintainable once the condition under Section 165 of M.V. Act are fulfilled. So, in the given case, there is a clause of personal accident coverage in case of motor accident, MACT can entertain the petition.

Bench also stated that it was fortified with the observations made in the followings cases:

Thiruvalluvar Transport Corpn. v. Consumer Protection Council, (1995) 2 SCC 479

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Ltd. v. C. Ramesh, 2013 (1) TN MAC 325.

Concluding the decision, Court rejected the contention that MACT cannot entertain the claim made by the insured/owner under a personal accident claim against the insurance company.

The present appeal was allowed and the Insurance Company was directed to pay Rs 2,00,000 to the appellants with the interest @6%. [Mangala v. National Insurance Company Limited, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 974, decided on 29-09-2020]


Also Read:

Madras HC | Can MACT deal with claims & policies other than Accident Claims provisions of MV Act? Contractual & Statutory liability cannot be equated: HC elaborates

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: V.L. Achliya, J., while addressing the issue with regard to the interest on compensation awarded in a motor accident case, observed that,

“…discretion vests with the tribunal to award the interest at ‘such rate’ and from ‘such date’ over the compensation awarded.”

Appellants being aggrieved by the decision of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal preferred this appeal with a limited challenge of award of interest.

Claimants presented a claim petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act seeking compensation of Rs 2 lakhs on account of the accidental death of the deceased who dies in a motor accident.

At the time of the accidental death, the deceased was earning Rs 6,000 per month.

Claimants assessed the compensation to be payable as Rs 14,51,000 but restricted the claim petition to Rs 2 lakhs.

Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Parbhani allowed the claim petition and awarded compensation of Rs 3,64,500 [inclusive of NFL] with interest @ 6% per annum from the date of petition till realization.

Being dissatisfied with the quantum of compensation awarded by the Tribunal, the claimants have preferred Appeal.

In the first appeal, Appellate Court had remanded the case to the Tribunal for deciding the same afresh. While remanding the case, Appellate Court observed that the amount already withdrawn by the claimants under the earlier award would be retained by them and the same shall be subject to further order to be passed by the tribunal.

Further, the Tribunal awarded the compensation of Rs 10,22,208 making the respondent liable to pay the same. Tribunal directed that after deducting the compensation amount of Rs 3,64, 500 which was awarded earlier the claimants shall entitle to recover the balance amount with an interest of 6% per annum from the date of passing Award till its realization.

Aggrieved with the interest from the date of passing of the Award the appellants preferred this appeal.

Decision

Bench referred to Section 171 of the Motor Vehicles Act which provides for the award of interest over the compensation awarded which spells out that discretion vests with the tribunal to award the interest at ‘such rate’ and from ‘such date’ over the compensation awarded.

There is no statutory obligation cast upon the Tribunal to award the interest from the date of making application for compensation. The only restriction that has been cast upon Tribunal under Section 171 of Motor Vehicles Act is to ensure that interest to be awarded be a simple interest and same shall be payable not earlier than the date of making claim.

Thus, except the embargo cast upon that interest can not be awarded from the date earlier to date of making claim, no other restrictions have been imposed upon the discretion of the Court/ Tribunal to award interest.

To understand the meaning of Section 171 of the Motor Vehicles Act, Court referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Abati Bezbaruah v. Geological Survey of India, (2003) 3 SCC 148.

Further, the bench stated that no hard and fast rule can be laid down as to the rate at which interest to be awarded and date from which such interest to be payable.

While awarding interest, the Tribunal has to take into consideration the facts and circumstances of individual case.

Section 171 of the Motor Vehicles Act does not provide the rate at which interest has to be payable nor the date from which interest to be awarded.

Adding to the above, Court stated that the only restriction that has been put under Section 171 of the Motor Vehicles Act over the exercise of powers of the Tribunal is not to award interest from the date earlier to fling of claim petition and interest to be awarded to be simple interest.

Hence tribunal’s order is clear and unambiguous and the present appeal was dismissed in light of the same. [Sangita v. Allanur, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 931, decided on 24-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: S.M. Subramaniam, J., while addressing a motor accident claim, observed that,

Once, the policy is contractual in nature and the parties have signed the agreement, then such a contract cannot be construed or brought within the ambit of statutory liability.

The Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Limited is the appellant. Respondent/Owner of Tata Indica Tourist Taxi TN-32-L-8595 dashed against the palm tree on the roadside due to unavoidable reasons, causing road traffic accident.

Respondent filed the claim petition under Section 163 of the Motor Vehicles Act seeking compensation of Rs 2,00,000 from the Insurance Company.

The Claim Petition was filed only against the appellant/Insurance company as the respondent car was insured with the appellant/Insurance company.

Appellant though defended the claim petition on the ground that the respondent was not some third party infcat he was the owner of the vehicle, therefore no statutory coverage in terms of Section 147(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 can be granted.

The Claim Petition was filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act. However, the Tribunal has referred the Claim Petition as if it was filed under Section 163A of the Motor Vehicles Act. However, misquoting of the provision could not disentitle the claimant from availing the rights.

Tribunal directed the Insurance Company to pay the compensation to the respondent.

Bench on perusal of the facts and circumstances of the present matter, stated that in the absence of any statutory liability on the part of the Insurance company, the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act cannot be invoked nor an adjudication can be done before the Tribunal.

The very purpose and object of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal are to adjudicate the Claim Petitions and grant ‘just compensation’ with reference to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act.

If a particular Personal Accident Policy is contractual in nature, then statutory liability cannot be fixed on the Insurance company.

Contractual liability cannot be equated with statutory liability.

Owner’s Package Policy with reference to the Personal Accident Cover for owner-cum driver is contractual in nature. There is no third party involvement with reference to the Personal Accident Cover.

Tribunal granted compensation beyond the agreed contract between the parties to the Personal Accident Cover.

The Tribunal is bound to see the nature of the insurance policy as well as the coverage with reference to the terms and conditions stipulated, which were agreed between the parties.

Court added that in the vent of no coverage under the policy, the insurance company cannot be held liable to pay compensation.

No person is entitled to claim any benefit beyond the scope of the terms and conditions agreed between the parties.

MV Act being a Special Legislation and the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal constituted to deal with the Accident Claims specifically under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, the tribunal has no jurisdiction to deal with all other policies issued by the Insurance Company, which all are contractual in nature and the terms and conditions agreed between the parties specifically.

Insurance Policy

Motor Vehicle policies are issued by the Insurance company for the purpose of grant of compensation and the language employed is “Compensation”. However, the Personal Accident Coverage Policy reveals that it is “benefit” is to be granted.

Motor Accident Policies are strictly within the ambit of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. The Personal Accident Coverage Policy is strictly in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed between the parties.

Court also added that the tribunals are bound to look into the nature of the Policy at the first instance, before entertaining the Claim Petition as the tribunal cannot adjudicate the terms and conditions agreed between the parties in a contract and grant compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act.

In the present case, the Personal Accident Coverage Policy has been agreed between the insurance company and respondent under the Personal Accident Coverage Policy of amount Rs 2,00,000.

For availing the benefit of the Personal Accident Coverage Policy, the respondent/claimant has to establish the nature of the ‘disablement’ and the same is to be established before the competent Court of law and the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal is not empowered to entertain the Claim Petition under the Motor Vehicles Act.

Hence if the Insurance Company has deposited any award amount before the Tribunal, then they can withdraw the said amount with accrued interest.[Cholamandalam MS General v. Ramesh Babu, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2164, decided on 02-09-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where Rule 55A of the M.P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1994 were challenged for being ultra vires the state’s power under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ upheld the validity of the said Rule and said that

“… the assignment of “distinctive marks” i.e. registration numbers to motor vehicles (which includes the power to reserve and allocate them, for a specific fee) is a distinct service for which states or their authorities are entitled to charge a prescribed fee. Rule 55A of the MP Rules is not therefore, in excess of the powers conferred upon the state, by the Act or the Central Rules.”

What is Rule 55A of the M.P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1994?

  • The said Rule prescribes four different fees – ₹15000/- for the registration marks 1 to 9 in any series prevalent within the jurisdiction of the registering authority; and ₹ 12000/- for reservation of marks from 10 to 100 in any series within the jurisdiction of the registering authority.
  • For reservation of large series of numbers indicated in Rule 55A(c), ₹ 10000/- and ₹ 2000/- for reservation of any other number or numbers within 1000 from the last number assigned in the serial order. 31.
  • In addition to charging such fees, the registering authority is enjoined by Rule 55A(2) to follow the principle of first-come-first-serve in reserving particular numbers; and to allot the registration mark reserved upon production of the vehicle along with the application in Form-20 (of the Central Rules), provided the vehicle is compliant with the provisions of the Act and Rules.
  • By Rule 55A(d), the reservation of the mark would be cancelled if the vehicle is not produced for allotment within three months from the date of allotment. This is meant to avoid abuse of the reservation process by trafficking in numbers, by providing finite time within which such numbers can be used.

Does Rule 55A of the MP Rules violate the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988?

The existence of specific provisions empowering the State (such as Sections 41(13), 47(7), 49(4) and 50(5)), means that the power of the State to claim or charge amounts is specifically recognized by express provisions. Further, there are certain services and functions for which the State is empowered to levy fees. It is precisely to cover these contingencies, i.e. where the service is rendered or some function performed, that the State is empowered by a residual provision to levy fees.

Further, Section 211 is cast in wide terms and that any rule which the Central Government or the State Government is empowered to make under this Act may, notwithstanding the absence of any express provision to that effect, provide for the levy of such fees in respect of applications, amendment of documents, issue of certificates, licences, permits, tests, endorsements, badges, plates, countersignatures, authorisation, supply of statistics or copies of documents or orders and for any other purpose or matter involving the rendering of any service.

“Clearly, therefore, the Parliament intended that contingencies not covered by a specific power to levy fees or amounts, which entailed some activity on the part of the State, including rendering of any service could be legitimately charged or subjected to the levy of fee or amounts.”

The Court further explained that Section 43 enables the owner of a motor vehicle to apply to any registering authority or other authority which may be prescribed by the State Government to have the vehicle temporarily registered. This provision contains a non-obstante clause. Various provisions of the Act deal with orders of higher authorities and appellate authorities.

It also said that the generality of the power under Section 65(1) to frame rules, is sufficient along with Section 211, to conclude that the State Government has the authority to prescribe a fee for reserving certain numbers or distinguishing marks to be assigned as registration numbers.

After an overall reading of the M.P. Rules and the Act, the Court held that besides the express authorization to levy fees or collect amounts, both the Central Government and the State Government are empowered – in fact duty bound to extend certain services in the performance of such duties. Both these bodies, i.e. the Central and State Governments would therefore, be acting within their authority to charge or levy fees.

Why Assignment of Registration Numbers is a part of State Policy?

The assignment of numbers by the registering authority through an official/agency or department notified by the State Government, cannot be seen as a mere step – albeit at the fag-end of the registration allotment process. In fact, though it is the culmination of the allotment process, it is nevertheless an important step. The state is entitled to indicate its choice or manner of assigning by prescribing a particular set of procedures for the assignment of numbers. Thus, for instance, the assignment of the concerned “code” – to the individual registering authorities followed by the assignment of numerics may follow a predetermined pattern which may be district wise, state government department wise (in the case of publicly owned vehicles), different sequences for buses and heavy vehicles and so on. If such a predetermined choice can be made by prescribing the mode of assignment, it is both regulatory and at the same time indicative of State policy.

“Per se, the Court cannot brush aside the element of service which may be involved – especially if the general public or a sub-section of it, wishes to choose particular numbers for various considerations. Such “fancy” numbers or “auspicious” numbers may well therefore have to be set apart having regard to the peculiar socio-cultural needs of the people of the state. It is in such an event that the availability of such numbers and their reservation as a choice and the power of their assignment assumes importance.”

[State of MP v. Rakesh Sethi, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 673, decided on 26.08.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking note of the fact that several Tribunals and High Courts have been awarding compensation for both loss of consortium and loss of love and affection, the bench directed the Tribunals and High Courts to award compensation for loss of consortium, which is a legitimate conventional head.

“There is no justification to award compensation towards loss of love and affection as a separate head.”

The 3-judge bench of SA Nazeer, Indu Malhotra and Aniruddha Bose, JJ was hearing an issue relating to determination of compensation in a motor vehicle accident case.

On Loss of Consortium

The Constitution Bench in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, has recognized only three conventional heads under which compensation can be awarded viz. loss of estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses.

Explaining the law on loss of consortium, the Court said that the right to consortium would include the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, solace and affection of the deceased, which is a loss to his family. With respect to a spouse, it would include sexual relations with the deceased spouse. Parental consortium is granted to the child upon the premature death of a parent, for loss of parental aid, protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance and training. Filial consortium is the right of the parents to compensation in the case of an accidental death of a child.

The Court noticed that in Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram, (2018) 18 SCC 130, this Court gave a comprehensive interpretation to consortium to include spousal consortium, parental consortium, as well as filial consortium. Loss of love and affection is comprehended in loss of consortium.

The Court, hence, said that it was necessary to provide uniformity with respect to the grant of consortium, and loss of love and affection.

On Future Prospects

In the wake of increased inflation, rising consumer prices, and general standards of living, future prospects have to be taken into consideration, not only with respect to the status or educational qualifications of the deceased, but also other relevant factors such as higher salaries and perks which are being offered by private companies these days. The dearness allowance and perks from which the family would have derived monthly benefit, are required to be taken into consideration for determining the loss of dependency.

The Court, further, reiterated:

  • The age of the deceased should be the basis for applying the multiplier.
  • Reasonable figures on conventional heads, namely, loss of estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses should be Rs. 15,000/-, Rs. 40,000/- and Rs. 15,000/- respectively. The aforesaid amounts should be enhanced at the rate of 10% in every three years.
  • The decision in Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation, (2009) 6 SCC 121, is to be relied upon for determination of the multiplicand, the deduction for personal and living expenses, and the selection of multiplier.

[United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Satinder Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 410 , decided on 30.06.2020]


Also read:

Future income of salaried or self-employed person to be considered while computing compensation under MV Act

Court duty-bound to provide ‘just compensation’ under MV Act irrespective of plea; compensation for ‘loss of consortium’ awarded under Article 142

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Sandeep Sharma, J., allowed an appeal which questioned the legality of the Order passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, H.P. where they dismissed the application of the appellants stating that it was not maintainable as they had failed to demonstrate that the income of the deceased Kishan Singh was not less than the maximum limit of Rs 40,000 per annum.

The issue placed before the Tribunal was, “Whether the petitioners (successors-in-interest of deceased who was employed by the respondent) were entitled to claim compensation in the sum of Rs 15,00,000 along with interest from the respondents jointly and/or severally on account of the death of the deceased in the accident in question as alleged?” The Tribunal held that since the income of the deceased was exceeding the maximum limit of Rs 40,000 per annum which is a maximum limit to maintain a petition under Section 163-A of MV Act, the petition so filed by the petitioners in view of the ration was not maintainable.

The appellants argued that de hors the fact as to whether the income of the deceased is Rs 40,000 or more per annum, once the claim petition has been filed by the claimant, maybe under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, the same has to be decided by the Tribunal on merit and the claim petition cannot be thrown out on flimsy grounds of income.

Division Bench of Himachal Pradesh High Court in Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Sihnu Ram, 2016 SCC OnLine HP 2224 held that once the jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunal has been invoked and during trial evidence has come to the effect that the accident was outcome of rash and negligent act and income of the victim was more than Rs 40,000, the petition under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act cannot be dismissed. They further held that the mandate of Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act is to provide compensation ‘On Structured formula Basis’ and was not an interim measure. Once it is granted, the victims cannot file a claim petition under Section 166 of the MV Act for grant of enhanced compensation. But, in case the Claims Tribunal comes to the conclusion that the income of the victim is more than Rs 40,000 per annum, it is not supposed to dismiss the claim petition. If the claim petition is dismissed on this ground then the aim, purpose and object of Sections 158(6), 163-A and 166(4) of the Motor Vehicles Act would be defeated.

The High Court concurred with the decision and allowed the appeal of the appellants. They quashed and set aside the award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and remanded the matter back to them directing them to decide the claim petition afresh on merit, on the basis of evidence on record, after affording the parties reasonable opportunity(s) to put forth their respective contentions. [Neema v. Sohan Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine HP 1805, decided on 31-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Sudhanshu Dhulia, J., allowed the appeal filed by the appellants against the award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Rudrapur in MACT Case No. 153 of 2013, whereby compensation of Rs 3,00,000 was awarded to the claimants.

The facts of the case are that, Roshni, the daughter of the appellant, aged 12 years, died in an accident on a motorcycle. The appellant filed a claim petition and a compensation of Rs 6,00,000 was claimed on account of the death of Roshni. The MACT, keeping in view the age of the deceased Roshni as 12 years, fixed her annual notional income as Rs 20,000 as per Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The learned Tribunal thereafter applied a multiplier of 15 and calculated the amount of compensation to the tune of Rs 3,00,000. Aggrieved by the amount of the compensation, the appellants have filed the appeal before this Court.

In the instant case, the Court observed that pursuant to the amendment made in the year 1994 to the Act and after the various decisions of the Supreme Court from time to time, the annual notional income of a person who is a non-earning member has increased from Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000, which has to be considered by the Tribunal under the facts and circumstances of each case. Further, relying upon the precedents of Kishan Gopal v. Lala, (2014) 1 SCC 244 and Lata Wadhwa v. State of Bihar, (2001) 8 SCC 197, the Court held that the notional income of the girl child Roshni shall be fixed at the rate of Rs 30,000 per annum, which is appropriate. On this amount applying the multiplier of 15, the amount of compensation comes to Rs 4,50,000 with interest.[Parwati Devi v. Paramjeet Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 672, decided on 03-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: K. Somashekar, J. modified the order of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) by enhancing the compensation awarded to the petitioners.

On 20-02-2008, the deceased Narasaiah after being hit by a car was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Due to the untimely death of the deceased, the petitioners, his wife and two children, suffered mental shock, pain, agony and suffering and lost financial assistance too. Therefore, the petitioners sought compensation.

The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) awarded compensation of Rs 1,90,000 with interest at 6% p.a. The petitioners were not satisfied with the aforesaid award and thus this petition for enhanced compensation.

Counsel for the petitioner, Bhushani Kumar contended that the compensation awarded is very low considering the family’s condition. It was further contended that the MACT failed to consider the income of the deceased by opining that the age of the deceased was 65 years whereas he was 50 years. Moreover, no compensation was awarded for loss of love and affection and towards transportation of deceased’s body.

Counsel for the respondent – Insurance Company, K. Suresh contended that the accident occurred due to the contributory negligence of the deceased also. Therefore, the insurer is not liable to indemnify. It further contended that the award for compensation is just and proper.

The Court observed that it would be appropriate to hold the multiplier of ‘9’ as the deceased falls under the age group of 56-60 years as per the case of  Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121. Taking the Supreme Court’s view in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1270, 10% of the deceased’s income ought to have been added towards future prospects, which was not done by the MACT. But, the MACT was right in deducting 1/3rd of his income towards personal expenses. Therefore, the compensation under the head ‘loss of dependency’ comes to Rs 3,56,400. It was further observed that the compensation under the conventional head as per Pranay Sethi case should not exceed Rs 70, 000. But, the MACT awarded Rs 40,000, which is to be enhanced to Rs 70,000.

In addition to this, the Supreme Court in Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1546 held that “Parental consortium is granted on the premature death of the parent, loss of parental aid, protection, affection…”. In the instant case, the children of the deceased have lost the passion of their father. Therefore, an additional sum of Rs. 40,000 each should be awarded.[Laxmamma v. Raju P., 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 882, decided on 19-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of K. Harilal and Annie John, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed by an insurance company against the order of Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation (WCC) directing it to pay a certain sum of money to the respondent herein.

Respondent herein had filed an application under Section 22 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 seeking compensation for the death of one driver Xavier while driving a car owned by one Trissa, on collision with a lorry. WCC allowed the said application. Aggrieved thereby, the present appeal was filed by insurance company.

Appellant company challenged this award contending that the respondent had already been awarded compensation by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) under Section 140 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Therefore, she was estopped from filing the application under Workmen’s Compensation Act.

The Court noted that as per Section 167 of the MV Act, the aggrieved party can claim compensation either under the Workmen’s Compensation Act or under Chapter 10 of the MV Act. One cannot proceed under both the statutes for compensation. However, in the instant case, though the respondent received interim compensation under MV Act, she subsequently withdrew her case under MV Act and WCC deducted the amount awarded by MACT. Thus, at the time of passing the impugned award, there was no proceeding under the MV Act.

It was opined that merely for the reason that earlier the claimants proceeded under the MV Act and later, withdrew the said proceedings and filed for compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, it cannot be held that the subsequent claim was barred by Section 167 of the MV Act.

Thus, it was held that there was no illegality or impropriety in the impugned award granting compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act after deducting the interim award granted by MACT.[United India Insurance Company Limited v. Mary, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 8199, Order dated 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mukta Gupta, J. dismissed a criminal leave petition filed against the judgment of the Magistrate whereby the respondents were acquitted of offences punishable under Sections 279 and 338 IPC along with Sections 146 and 196 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

According to the prosecution, on the day of the incident, the respondents were driving a bike without an insurance policy on a public way in a rash and negligent manner. They hit the complainant who fell down and sustained injuries. Case of the prosecution rested upon the testimony of the complainant who stated that he was crossing the road on a green signal and on reaching the middle of the road he was hit by the respondents’ bike.

The High Court noted that the complainant did not depose as to which of the respondents was driving the bike in a rash and negligent manner. Thus, he failed to identify the accused who committed the offence. Furthermore, the prosecution failed to clarify whether the green signal was for pedestrians or vehicles. In such view of the matter, the Court was of the view that judgment of the Magistrate did not require interference. The petition was dismissed. [State v. Mohd. Furqan,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12913, dated 20-09-2018]