Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

In 2022 SCC Volume 2 Part 4, read a very interesting decision, wherein a death row convict subjected a 5-year-old girl to rape, killed her by strangulation, and then disposed of her body, tied in a gunny bag, into a stream and the 3-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court finding hope for reformation and rehabilitation commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. [Irappa Siddappa Murgannavar v. State of Karnataka, (2022) 2 SCC 801]

Short Notes: 6


Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 (5 of 2007) — S. 3 provisos 2(a) & (b) and Ss. 3(i), (ii) & (iii) and Ss. 2(i-a) & (i-b) (as amended in 2012): Manner of interpretation and applicability of special provisions of amended S. 3 provisos 2(a) & (b) excluding general provisions of Ss. 3(i), (ii) & (iii), explained in detail. Amended S. 3 proviso 2 is applicable to University located in State of Manipur which is one of the States of “Specified North-Eastern Region” in terms of S. 2(ia). S. 3 provisos 2(a) & (b) is applicable to “Specified North-Eastern Region” in S. 2(i-a) and not limited only to the tribal States covered by the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. This became possible after the amendment of S. 3 and insertion of S. 3 provisos 2(a) & (b) by the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Amendment Act, 2012 (Amendment Act). [Kshetrimayum Maheshkumar Singh v. Manipur University, (2022) 2 SCC 704]

Re S. 3 provisos 2(a) & (b) and Ss. 3(i), (ii) & (iii) and Ss. 2(i-a) & (i-b) (as amended in 2012), Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 (5 of 2007) manner of interpretation and applicability of special provisions of amended S. 3 provisos 2(a) & (b) excluding general provisions of Ss. 3(i), (ii) & (iii), explained in detail. [Kshetrimayum Maheshkumar Singh v. Manipur University, (2022) 2 SCC 704]

Constitution of India — Sch. X Paras 2(1)(a) and (2) r/w Art. 191(2): Judicial interference with disqualification order issued under by Speaker under the provision, when permissible and warranted, explained. [Kshetrimayum Biren Singh v. Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly, (2022) 2 SCC 759]

Re Sch. X Paras 2(1)(a) and (2) r/w Art. 191(2), Constitution of India judicial interference with disqualification order issued under by Speaker under the provision, when permissible and warranted, explained. [Kshetrimayum Biren Singh v. Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly, (2022) 2 SCC 759]

Education Law — Professional Colleges/Education — Medical and Dental Colleges — Reservation of seats/Quota/Exemption/Priority in Medical/Dental Institutions — Generally —Postgraduate/Superspeciality courses: State Government providing reservation for in-service doctors in superspeciality courses in final stages of admission for the academic year 2020-2021, held, cannot be permitted. [Prerit Sharma v. Bilu B.S., (2022) 2 SCC 751]

State Government providing reservation for in-service doctors in superspeciality courses in final stages of admission for the academic year 2020-2021 cannot be permitted. [Prerit Sharma v. Bilu B.S., (2022) 2 SCC 751]

Electricity Act, 2003 — S. 9 and S. 2(15) r/w S. 42(4) — Electricity distribution system — Wheeling charges for use of distribution system: Additional surcharge on wheeling charges under S. 42(4), if consumer does not receive supply of electricity from the distribution licensee but uses the system, is not applicable to captive consumers. Ordinary consumers under S. 2(15) to whom S. 42(4) is applicable, clarified. Rationale why such additional surcharge is justified, explained. Rights of captive consumers distinguished from ordinary consumers. Captive consumers, held, do not have an obligation to pay additional surcharge under S. 42(4) even if they are not receiving electricity from the distribution licensee. [Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. v. JSW Steel Ltd., (2022) 2 SCC 742]

Re S. 9 and S. 2(15) r/w S. 42(4), Electricity Act, 2003 qua wheeling charges for use of distribution system, captive consumers, do not have an obligation to pay additional surcharge under S. 42(4) even if they are not receiving electricity from distribution licensee. [Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. v. JSW Steel Ltd., (2022) 2 SCC 742]

Energy, Power and Electricity — Electricity — Tariff — Exemption provision: Repealing statute withdrawing exemption provided in repealed statute in simple, clear and unambiguous language, said exemption provision, held, needs to be interpreted literally and applied rigorously and strictly. Recourse cannot be had to any other principle of interpretation, when the words are clear and unambiguous. Thus, held, charitable educational institutions registered under the provisions of the Societies Registration Act and/or under the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act, are not entitled to any exemption from levy/payment of electricity duty on or after 8-8-2016 i.e. from the date on which Maharashtra Electricity Duty Act, 2016 (2016 Act) came into effect. [State of Maharashtra v. Shri Vile Parle Kelvani Mandal, (2022) 2 SCC 725]

Repealing statute withdrawing exemption provided in repealed statute in simple, clear and unambiguous language, said exemption provision needs to be interpreted literally and applied rigorously and strictly. Recourse cannot be had to any other principle of interpretation, when words are clear and unambiguous. [State of Maharashtra v. Shri Vile Parle Kelvani Mandal, (2022) 2 SCC 725]

Labour Law — Domestic/Departmental Enquiry — Acquittal in criminal proceedings — Effect: Principles reiterated regarding invocation of cl. (1)(g) of Sch. IV of the MRTU & PULP Act, 1971, for setting aside dismissal order. Applicability of said cl. (1)(g), also explained. [Maharashtra SRTC v. Dilip Uttam Jayabhay, (2022) 2 SCC 696]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 — S. 173 — Appeal: Growing number of appeals by claimants, insurers and vehicle owners against award passed by Tribunal are resulting in large pendency of appeals before various High Courts. Idea of “Motor Vehicle Appellate Tribunals” mooted and detailed suggestions given. [Rasmita Biswal v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2022) 2 SCC 767]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302, 376, 364, 366-A and 201 — Rape and murder of 5 yr old girl by strangulation: Low age of victim cannot be considered as only or sufficient factor by Supreme Court for imposing death sentence. Sentences awarded to appellant under Ss. 376, 364, 366-A and 201 IPC, upheld. However, considering mitigating circumstances, death sentence awarded under S. 302, is commuted to life imprisonment with stipulation that appellant shall not be entitled to premature release/remission before undergoing actual imprisonment of 30 yrs. Further held, further sentences awarded shall run concurrently and not consecutively. [Irappa Siddappa Murgannavar v. State of Karnataka, (2022) 2 SCC 801]

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 — Ss. 24(1)(a), 25(1) and 114(1) & (2) — Acquisition proceedings: Saving of provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and retrospectivity of provisions of the 2013 Act, explained in detail. [Maharashtra Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corpn. v. Mahesh, (2022) 2 SCC 772]

Re Ss. 24(1)(a), 25(1) and 114(1) & (2), Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 saving of provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and retrospectivity of provisions of the 2013 Act, explained in detail. [Maharashtra Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corpn. v. Mahesh, (2022) 2 SCC 772]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of K.M. Joseph and Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha*, JJ., held that Rule 174(2)(c) of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules,1989 is valid and salutary and does not go beyond the scope of Section 83 of the MV Act, 1988. While interpreting the expression “same nature” the Bench observed that such expressions are better kept open ended to enable courts to subserve the needs of changing circumstances. The Bench expressed,

“…the assumption in the impugned judgment that the expression “same nature” is confined only to, mean “a bus by bus, a mini-bus by mini-bus and not bus by a minibus….” is not a correct way to read the provision. There is no need to restrict the meaning of an expression same nature.”

The question posed before the Bench was; can a State Government make Rules, enabling the road transport authority to reject an application for replacement if the proposed vehicle is older than the one covered under the existing permit?

By the impugned order, holding that the Rule 174(2)(c) of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 traveled beyond and contrary to Section 83 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988,  the Kerala High Court had opined that When the expression is vehicle of same nature, then if Rule l74(2)(c) restricts that an older vehicle cannot be brought in, it would be restricting the right conferred to a person by the provisions of the Act. Surely such an exercise by a delegate cannot be permitted. Rules have to be consistent with the Act and not restricting or in derogation thereto.

Noticeably, Rule 174(2)(c) of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 provides that “upon receipt of the application, the Transport Authority may in his discretion, reject the application – (c) if the new vehicle proposed is older than the one sought to be replaced.” While Section 83 of the Act provides for replacement of vehicles by the following terms: “The holder of a permit may, with the permission of the authority by which the permit was granted, replace any vehicle covered by the permit by any other vehicle of the same nature.”

To interpret the expression, ‘of the same nature’, the Bench gauged through the whole statutory scheme under Chapter IV and Chapter V where the former provides for the powers of the Central Government with respect to fixation of the age of the vehicle, or fitness of the vehicle while later provides for the powers of the State Government to deal with transport vehicles except under Section 88 of the Act where the powers are subject to the rules made by the Central Government. The Bench opined that the placement of Section 83 in Chapter V is recognition of the need to provide a seamless mechanism for replacement of a vehicle during subsistence of a transport permit.

Considering the term “vehicle of the same nature” in the context of Chapter V relating to transport vehicles, the Bench explained,

“…it becomes clear that the provision is intended only to enable the owner to work his permit without any interruption even if there is a need to replace the vehicle covered by the permit. There is no other purpose. It is intended to be a simple transaction and this is reason why the scope of scrutiny is limited only to examining if the vehicle is of same nature as in the permit.”

Hence, the Bench opined that the context, in which scrutiny of the Regional Transport Authority is called upon, is only to ensure that the conditions of the permit are not deviated from. Therefore, the scrutiny is not of the vehicle in itself but the vehicle in relation to the permit and a scrutiny of the vehicle, irrespective of its relation with the permit becomes an irrelevant consideration for the purpose of Section 83. Particularly, when questions relating to the vehicle or about the vehicle are matters of concern in Chapter IV, under which the Central Government is empowered to set the norms for the fitness or the age limit of the vehicle and Chapter V, on the other hand contains the legal regime with respect to operations of transport vehicles. Chapters IV and V operate in their own field subserving the purpose and objects mentioned therein.

In the light of the above, the Bench held that Rule 174 (2) (c) made by the State Government to enable replacement of the vehicle under a Transport permit, did not impinge upon the powers of the Central Government with respect to fixation of the age of the vehicle, or fitness of the vehicle conferred upon it under Sections 56 and 59 in Chapter IV. The Bench observed,

“The scrutiny under Rule 174 is only to enable the Authority to ensure that the subsisting permit is not interrupted and at the same time public interest is not compromised by deviating from the permit. The Rule will have no bearing on the power of the Central Government and as such it would not be ultra vires the provisions of the Act.”

Consequently, the Bench concluded that Rule 174(2)(c) was not ultra vires the provisions of the statute and the reasoning adopted by the Division Bench that Rule 174 (2) (c) has overridden the Act was not correct because a subordinate legislation must be interpreted to effectuate the statutory purpose and objective and the High Court failed to appreciate the context in which Rule 174 (2) (c) read with Section 83 was to be construed. Hence, the impugned judgment was set aside.

[Regional Transport Authority v. Shaju, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 209, decided on 17-02-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha


Appearance by:

For the State: G. Prakash, Advocate

Amicus Curiae: Santosh Krishnan


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Bombay High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ and Vinay Joshi, J., directed UBER and other transport aggregators who have not obtained a license as per Section 93(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act to apply for the license before 16th March 2022 otherwise they shall not be able to operate in the State of Maharashtra.

In the Public Interest Litigation filed, one of the prayers was a direction on respondents 1 and 2 to ensure implementation of Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines-2020.

Uber (Respondent 3) was a Transport Aggregator in the present matter.

Section 93(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 required an aggregator to obtain a license from such authority and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the State Government. The said proviso provided that while issuing license, the State Government may follow such guidelines as may be issued by the Centre. Whereas Sub-Section 2 of 93 referred to matters which could be included as conditions of such license.

Analysis and Decision

High Court expressed that Section 93(1) is couched in negative language and once it is statutory mandate that no person shall engage himself as an aggregator unless a license is obtained, it is absolutely inappropriate for the State of Maharashtra (respondent 2) to allow such person to continue as an aggregator without he/it obtaining such a license.

Bench added that, no doubt that the Maharashtra Regulation of Aggregators Rules 2021 are still at the draft stage but till such time the said draft rules are finalized for being complied with, the 2020 Guidelines framed by the Centre would hold the field and any person willing to operate as an aggregator must follow the regulatory framework brought about by such guidelines.

Pained to observe that despite new statutory provisions having been brought into force in 2019 by amending Section 93 and the guidelines having been framed in November 2020, the respondent 2 permitted an aggregator like UBER to operate in Maharashtra without insisting for compliance of the statutory requisite.

Further, Court was also conscious of the fact that restraining the operation of UBER would cause immense prejudice and detriment of the passengers who avail of the services provided by it.

Therefore, High Court granted an opportunity to UBER and other unlicensed aggregators to apply for license as required by the provision concerned.

Lastly, the Bench directed the Transport Department of the State Government to issue an appropriate notification in the Official Gazette forthwith and not later than 9th March, 2022 empowering each and every Regional Transport Authority in the State of Maharashtra to act as the Licensing Authority for grant of license under sub-section (1) of Section 93 of the Act.

All the Operators have been directed to apply for the license by 16th March, 2022 and in case the application before the said date is not received, then the unlicensed aggregator will not be permitted to carry on further operations in the State of Maharashtra.

PIL to be listed on 4-4-2022 for reporting developments. [Savino R. Crasto v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 490, decided on 7-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Ms. Savina R. Crasto, petitioner-in-person, present.

Mr. Rajshekar V. Govilkar for respondent no.1.

Ms. Jyoti Chavan, AGP for respondent-State.

Mr. Janak Dwarkadas, Senior Advocate a/w Mr. Ankit Lohia, Ms. Sita Kapadia, Mr. Shashwat Rai, Mr. Akash Loya and Ms. Tvishi Pant i/by Keystone Partners for respondent nos.3 and 4

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Ajai Tyagi, JJ., enhances quantum of award of a non-earning member in a motor accident claim, while referring to the Supreme Court decision in Kurvan Ansari v. Shyam Kishore Murmu, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1060.

Present appeal had been preferred by the claimants-appellants against the decision of Presiding Officer, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Kanpur whereby the Tribunal awarded a sum of Rs 1,80, 000 as compensation to the claimants with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum.

The appeal was preferred for the purpose of enhancement of quantum.

By the present claimant’s appeal, appellant claimed enhancement of award for the death of a child who was 7 years old at the time of his death.

Appellant’s counsel submitted that the deceased was a brilliant student and he had very bright future, but the said aspect was not considered by the Tribunal. Further, it was added that the notional income of the deceased was taken Rs 15,000 per annum by the Tribunal and held that the contribution of the deceased towards his family was only assumed as 1/2 of his income and in this way the Tribunal has awarded only 1/2 of his income as compensation, which was not just and proper.

Supreme Court decided the controversy and settled the law regarding the death of a child in Kurvan Ansari v. Shyam Kishore Murmu, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1060, wherein it was stated that in spite of repeated directions, Scheduled-II of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 was not yet amended. Therefore, fixing notional income of Rs 15,000 per annum for non-earning members is not just and reasonable.

Hence, the Supreme Court took the notional income of the deceased at Rs 25,000 per annum, hence Court is opined that notional income of the deceased must be assumed Rs 25,000 as he was a non-earning member.

Court further expressed that, when the notional income is multiplied with applicable multiplier ‘15’ as prescribed in Scheduled-II for the claims under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, it comes to Rs 3,75,000/- towards loss of dependency.

Therefore, appellants 1 and 2 were entitled to the following amounts towards compensation:

(i) Loss of Dependency: 25,000/- X 15 = Rs.3,75,000/-

(ii) Filial consortium: 40,000/- X 2 = Rs.80,000/-

(iii) Funeral expenses: Rs.15,000/-

(iv) Total compensation: Rs.4,70,000/-

The Bench also added that in view of the latest decision of the Supreme Court in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Mannat Johal, (2019) 15 SCC 260, the appellants 1 and 2 shall be entitled to the rate of interest as 7.5% per annum from the date of filing the claim petition.

Lastly, the Court concluded by stating that the appeal was partly allowed in view of the above discussion. [Roop Lal v. Suresh Kumar Yadav, 2022 SCC OnLine All 25, decided on 4-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Appellant:- Mohd. Naushad Siddiqui

Counsel for Respondent:- Vipul Kumar, Shreesh Srivastava

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case dealing with motor vehicle accident resulting into the death of a 21 year old engineering student who was not serving and earning at the time of accident/death and hence, it was argued that nothing further is to be added towards the future prospect/future rise in income, the bench of MR Shah* and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ, refused to accept such contention and held that even in case of a deceased who was not serving at the time of death and had no income at the time of death, their legal heirs shall be entitled to future prospects by adding future rise in income i.e. addition of 40% of the income determined on guesswork considering the educational qualification, family background etc., where the deceased was below the age of 40 years.

Factual Background

The deceased at the time of accident i.e. in 2012, was a bachelor, aged 21 years and was studying in 3rd year of B.E. The original claimants – mother, father, brother and  sister of  the deceased had claimed Rs.25 lakhs as compensation on different heads. The fact that the deceased at the relevant time was getting Rs.25,000/¬ as salary from one Nectal Construction Company and was earning Rs.8,000/¬ per month as he was engaged in tuition of other students was disbelieved by the Courts.

The Tribunal assessed the monthly income   of   the   deceased   as   Rs.15,000/¬   per   month, considering the young age and the educational qualification, the nature of work to be done by him in future and his future   prospect. Applying the multipliers and other expenses, the Tribunal in all awarded Rs.12,85,000/¬ with 7.5% interest per annum.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, however, reduced the amount of compensation from Rs.12,85,000/¬ to Rs.6,10,000/¬, determining the future loss of income at Rs.5,000/¬ per month, original claimants have preferred the present appeal.

While the Union of India fairly conceded that assessing the income of deceased at Rs.5,000/¬ per month for the purpose of awarding the compensation under the head of future economic loss was at lower side and as such is not justifiable, it argued that since he was not earning at all at the time of death, there shall not be any future rise in income while determining the future loss of income.

Analysis

Award of future loss of income at Rs.5,000/¬ per month unjustified

The Court took note of the fact that the deceased at the time of accident was aged 21¬22 years and that he was a 3rd year student in civil engineering. Therefore, looking to his educational qualification he was having a bright future and hence, awarding the future economic loss to the claimants considering the income of the deceased as Rs.5,000/¬ was not sustainable at all.

It was further noticed that even the labourers/skilled labourers were getting Rs.5,000/- per month under the Minimum Wages Act in the year 2012. Hence,

“As the deceased was studying in the 3rd/4th semester of civil engineering, he cannot be considered worse than the labourers/skilled labourers.”

Looking to the educational qualification and the family background, the Court noticed that the deceased was having a bright future studying in the 3rd year of civil engineering, hence, the income of the deceased at least ought to have been considered at least Rs.10,000/- per month, more particularly considering the fact that the labourers/skilled labourers were getting Rs.5,000/¬ per month even under the Minimum Wages Act in the year 2012.

Future rise in income in case of death of an unemployed person

The Court held that the same principle which is applied to the salaried person and/or deceased self   employed and/or a fixed salaried deceased has to be applied to the deceased who was not serving and/or was not having any income at the time of accident/death.

In case of a deceased, who was not earning and/or not doing any job and/or self employed at the time of accident/death, his income is to be determined on the guesswork. Once such an amount is arrived at he shall be entitled to the addition over the future prospect/future rise in income. It cannot be disputed that the rise in cost of living would also affect such a person.

As observed by this court in National Insurance Company Limited V. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the determination of income while computing compensation has to include future prospects so that the method will come within the ambit and sweep of just compensation as postulated under Section 168 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

“In case of a deceased who had held a permanent job with inbuilt grant of annual increment and/or in case of a deceased who was on a fixed salary and/or self-employed would only get the benefit of future prospects and the legal representatives of the deceased who was not serving at the relevant time as he died at a young age and was studying, could not be entitled to the benefit of the future prospects for the purpose of computation of compensation would be inapposite. Because the price rise does affect them also and there is always an incessant effort to enhance one’s income for sustenance. It is not expected that the deceased who was not serving at all, his income is likely to remain static and his income would remain stagnant.”

It was noticed that to have the perception that he is likely to remain static and his income to remain stagnant is contrary to the fundamental concept of human  attitude which always intends to live with dynamism and move and change with the time.

Therefore, even in case of a deceased who was not serving at the time of death and had no income at the time of death, their legal heirs shall also be entitled to future prospects.

Enhanced Award

The Court held that the claimants shall be entitled to future economic loss at Rs.14,000/¬ per month. The deceased at the time of accident was aged between 21¬22 years. In total, the claimants shall be entitled in all a sum of Rs.15,82,000/- with interest thereon at the rate of 7% per annum from the date of claims petition till realization.

[Meena Pawaia v. Ashraf Ali, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1083, decided on 18.11.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah

Know Thy Judge | Justice M. R. Shah

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Noting that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal Member did not properly determine just and proper compensation, V.M. Deshpande, J., while partly allowing the appeal enhanced compensation.

Instant appeal was filed by the claimants for enhancement of compensation.

Factual Matrix

Appellants were the widow, sons and daughters of the deceased. Deceased when proceeding to his house on foot after closing his shop was crushed to death by the offending vehicle. The offence was registered against the driver of the offending vehicle.

Further, the appellants had approached the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal by filing a petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act. In the said petition, it was averred by the claimants that when the deceased met an untimely death, he was 40 years old and a self-employed person.

Claimants added that the monthly income of the deceased was Rs 10,000 and the aggregate compensation claimed was Rs 5,00,000 with interest at 12% pa from the date of the accident.

MACT passed the judgment and award holding that the claimants were entitled to total compensation of Rs 1,89,500/- inclusive of no-fault liability amount of Rs 50,000/- along with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum from the date of filing of petition.

On being dissatisfied with the compensation amount that was awarded, present appeal was filed.

Issue

According to the counsel for the appellant, the Tribunal committed an error in determining the monthly income of the deceased as Rs 15000/-. She submitted that in any case, the income of the deceased was not less than Rs 10,000/- per month. She also submitted that the judgment of tribunal cannot stand to the scrutiny of law inasmuch as nothing is granted in favour of the claimants under the head of future prospects. Along with this, Tribunal had wrongly deducted 1/3rd amount towards personal expenses.

Did member of the MACT grant just and adequate compensation to the claimants?

Analysis, Law and Decision

In Court’s opinion, Member of the Tribunal had rightly reached the conclusion that at the time of the death, the age of the deceased was 45 years.

Adding to the above analysis, Court stated that there was no documentary evidence that could throw light on the daily income of the deceased.  However, from the evidence of the widow, it was clear that the deceased was engaged in repairing tubes and tyres of various vehicles and not the bicycles. In that view of the matter, the Judge had determined the daily income of the deceased on very lower side.

Once it is established that the deceased was not unemployed and he was engaged in the business of vulcanization, without there being any documentary proof about his income, his monthly income will have to be determined as notional income.

Moving further, High Court elaborated stating that in absence of any documentary evidence and keeping aside the exaggeration in respect of earning per month income of the deceased, looking to the nature of self-employment of the deceased, the Court reached the conclusion that monthly income of deceased was Rs 5,000.

Claimants were entitled to 25% towards future prospects.

In Court’s opinion, the Tribunal committed an error in deducting 1/3rd income. Seven persons were dependent on the deceased. Therefore, a proper deduction would be 1/5th.

The inadequate amount was granted in favour of the claimants on account of loss of consortium for which they were entitled at the rate of Rs 44,000/- per dependent in view of the law laid down in Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd v. Nanu Ram, (2018) 18 SCC 130. Similarly, less compensation was granted to the claimants in respect of the loss of estate and future expenses which appellants will be entitled. Therefore, the claimants were surely entitled to enhancement.[Sahana Khatoon v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 3695, decided on 28-10-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Ms Mitisha Kotecha, Advocate for appellants.

Mr M. B. Joshi, Advocate for respondent 1.

None for respondents. 2 and 3, though served.

Telangana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Telangana High Court: K. Lakshman, J., while addressing a very pertinent issue expressed that,

Intention of the Legislature is to reduce the accidents and deaths that may be caused due to driving of vehicles in intoxicated condition, and it is not the intention to harass the owners of the vehicles by detaining the vehicles for days together.

 What has been challenged?

Power of police officers to seize the vehicle from its driver/rider, who is in an intoxicated condition.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court while analysing the submissions stated that as per Section 185(b) of the MV Act, 1988, whoever, while driving, or attempting to drive, a motor vehicle, is under the influence of drug to such an extent as to be incapable of exercising proper control over the vehicle, is punishable. Therefore, driving a vehicle in an intoxicated condition is an offence. Thus, a person in an intoxicated condition is barred from driving a vehicle.

As per Section 202(1) of the Act, 1988 if the police officer finds a person driving the vehicle in an intoxicated condition and if he/she considers that such person is not capable of driving the vehicle under such condition, he/she may detain or take steps for the temporary disposal of the vehicle.

Court in view of the Act, 1988, the Telangana Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 stated that the Police Officers do not have the power to detain/seize the vehicles on the ground that the person driving the vehicle was found in an intoxicated condition.

Bench explained that, for instance, a person drives the vehicle alone and Police Officer finds him in an intoxicated condition and that such person is unable to drive the vehicle, then the Police Officer has the power to seize the certificate of registration and can detain/seize the vehicle and keep it in a nearest police station/appropriate place for safe custody. At the same time, it is the duty of the Police Officer to release the said vehicle either to the owner or to any authorized person who is not in drunken condition and who is in a position to drive the vehicle and holds a valid license. If there are two persons present in the car, the person driving the vehicle found in an intoxicated condition and the other person has a valid driving license and is found not in intoxicated condition and in a position to drive the vehicle, then the police shall not seize/detain the vehicle and permit the other person to drive the vehicle.

High Court elaborated further observing that Police Officers do not have the power to detain/seize the vehicles under Sections – 19 (1) (f), 185, 206, 207 of the Act, 1988 and Rule 21 (16) of the Central Rules. They have to release the vehicle in terms of Rule – 448A of the T.S. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.

Bench also noted the Supreme Court decision of S. Rajaseekaran v. Union of India, (2018) 13 SCC 516, wherein while considering the steep increase in the accidents and deaths due to driving of vehicles by the drivers in intoxication condition has issued several directives.

It was brought to the notice of this Court that the Senior Officials of the State are building up pressure on the officials of the Prohibition & Excise Department, Telangana State, to collect more revenue by sale of liquor. The said officials have also been building up pressure to collect more revenue through ‘drunk and drive’ by imposing challans.

Bench stated that the above approach of the State is not appreciable.

High Court expressed that,

It is the fundamental duty of the citizens to take all precautions to avoid road accidents and deaths and also to follow the guidelines issued by the State and the Central Governments from time to time on ‘road safety’.

Conclusion

Bench expressed that this Court had previously held that under the MV Act the Police Officers do not have the power to take custody of the vehicle driven under intoxicated condition and directed the authorities/officials who have custody of the vehicle in question to release the same on the production of certificate of registration relating to the said vehicle and on production of proof of identity and also a valid driving license.

Court issued the following directions to the Police Authorities:

(a) If the driver/rider of the vehicle is found under the influence of alcohol, he/she should not be allowed to drive the vehicle. However, if the police finds another person accompanying the driver/rider not in an intoxicated condition and having a valid driving license, shall permit such person to drive the vehicle without seizing/ detaining the vehicle, subject to Section 202 of the M.V. Act, 1988;

(b) If there is no other person other than the person who drives the vehicle in an intoxicated condition, then the concerned Police Officer or the intoxicated driver shall immediately inform any nearest relative or friend to take back the custody of the vehicle;

(c) If no one comes to take back the custody of the vehicle, then the concerned Police Official shall temporarily take possession of the vehicle, and keep the vehicle in the nearest police station or any other appropriate authorized place for safe custody. However, it is made clear that the Police do not have power to detain/seize vehicle on the ground that its driver/rider drove it in an intoxicated condition.

(d) The Police or any other Official who has the custody of such vehicle shall release the same either to the owner or any authorized person on production of certificate of registration (RC) of the said vehicle, proof of identity and a valid driving license;

(e) If the concerned Police come to a conclusion that prosecution of driver or owner or both is necessary, he shall file charge sheet against him/them before the concerned Magistrate within three (03) days from the date of seizure of vehicle. The vehicle shall be released by the Officer who detained it after prosecution is completed under intimation to the concerned Regional Transport Authorities;

(f) Magistrates are directed to receive the charge sheets within three (03) days from the date of seizure in compliance of Rule – 448-A (iv) of the Telangana State Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 if the charge sheets are otherwise in order.

(g) The Police Officers of the State are directed to strictly follow the procedure laid down under Rule – 448-A of the T.S. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.

(h) If no one claims the custody of the vehicle, the police shall take necessary steps in accordance with law;

(i) Any breach of the above directives will amount to Contempt and necessary proceedings will be initiated against the concerned Police.

In view of the above, petitions were disposed of. [Prannoy Pandy v. State of Telangana, 2021 SCC OnLine TS 1426, decided on 29-10-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: P SHASHI KIRAN

Jharkhand High Court
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, 2021 SCC OnLine Jhar 705, 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

Patna High Court
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.

Gauhati High Court
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

Kerala High Court
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]