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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This appeal was filed before a Single Judge Bench of Rohit Arya, J., under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 against the impugned order passed by Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (Shajapur).

Facts of the case were that deceased met with an accident caused by the rash and negligent driving of respondent thereby causing their death. The respondent’s vehicle was insured with Insurance Company (Respondent 3). The claimant brought before Court the salary earned by deceased at the time of his death i.e. Rs 3,500. The claimant suffered not only the loss of love and affection of their family member but also financial constraints. The claimants were aggrieved by the meager compensation awarded by the Tribunal and prayed for its enhancement. The issue before the court was whether the compensation awarded by Tribunal of Rs 2,41,000 was justified.

Insurance company supported the award of compensation passed by Tribunal to be just, appropriate and proper with no requirement of enhancement. The High Court was of the view that impugned award was not assessed properly, being on the lower side it needed to be enhanced taking into consideration the age, dependency of the deceased and his future prospects. Court found it appropriate to deduct 1/3 instead of 1/2 towards personal expenses of the deceased. On viewing that Tribunal did not award compensation under the head ‘future prospects’, compensation was granted under the above head. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and award of compensation was enhanced to Rs 2,44,000. [Samrat v. Manish,2018 SCC OnLine MP 833, order dated 16-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“Motor Vehicles Act is a beneficial piece of legislation enacted to give solace to the victims of the motor accident who suffer bodily injury or die untimely.”

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of A.M. Sapre and Indu Malhotra, JJ. allowed the present appeal filed against the decision of Rajasthan High Court whereby the appeal of the claimants was dismissed and award  by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (Jaipur) was affirmed.

In the present case, the deceased was travelling in a passenger bus to a place called ‘Chomu’ and when the bus reached Chomu, a truck which was going towards Jaipur came on a high speed and dashed against the bus. Deceased sustained grevious injuries resulting in instant death which led to the filing of an FIR. Further, the incident gave rise to initiation of criminal and civil proceedings.

Proceeding were initiated before the civil court, filed by the appellants (claimants) against the Insurance Company (Respondent 1), driver (Respondent 2) and owner of the offending truck (Respondent 3) under Section 166 Motor Vehicles Act before MACT claiming to award reasonable compensation for loss on account of untimely death of the deceased, their only bread earner. Appellants along with the claim petition had filed all the requisite documents against the driver. Tribunal had dismissed the appellants claim petition stating that claimants failed to prove the accident for want of evidence and the one adduced was not exhibited and hence was of no use. Aggrieved by the same, the claimants approached the Rajasthan High Court wherein their appeal was dismissed and therefore filing of the present appeal in Supreme Court arose.

The Bench gave a seven pointer reasoning on the issue by adding that the High Court while dismissing the appeal simply affirmed the award of the Tribunal without assigning any reason. In Court’s opinion, “ non-exhibition of the said document was nothing but a procedural lapse, which could not be made basis to reject the claim petition.” Thus, the Court while stating that “if the Court did not exhibit the documents despite the appellants referring them at the time of recording evidence then in such event, the appellants cannot be denied of their right to claim compensation on such ground.” Appellants were held entitled to claim Rs 11,27,920 by way of compensation from the respondents jointly and severally. [Vimla Devi v. National Insurance Co. Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2458, decided on 16-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A transfer application was filed under Section 24 of Code of Civil Procedure before a Single Judge Bench of Anjani Kumar Mishra, J. for transfer of Motor Vehicles Claim petition pending before the Motor Vehicles Claim Tribunal.

A motor vehicle claim was filed before motor vehicle tribunal in order to receive compensation. The petitioner filed an application for transfer of matter pending before the tribunal. The question before the court was whether an application under the Motor Vehicles Act could be transferred under Section 24 of Code of Civil Procedure. For resolving the above dispute relevant provisions of Motor Vehicles Act were referred to. It was viewed that the Tribunal had been created under Section 165 of the Motor Vehicles Act by the State Government.

Under Rule 221 of U.P. Motor Vehicle Rules, 1998 which mentions the cases where Code of Civil Procedure could be applied suggested that the Code has no application in the matter under Section 24 by virtue of the nature of the Act to be a complete code in itself. Section 24 states the general power to transfer matter pending in a court subordinate to High Court or District Court. Court referred to the case of Ethiopian Airlines v. Ganesh Narain Saboo, 2011 (8) SCC 539 and viewed the Act to be specific and special thus giving limited applicability to the Code. The Tribunal was formed under a special Act which was sufficient in itself and cannot be said to be subordinate. Therefore, the transfer application was dismissed being not maintainable. [Shankar Lal v. Asha Devi,2018 SCC OnLine All 2545, order dated 12-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman and Indu Malhotra, JJ. disposed of an appeal filed challenging the compensation awarded by the Punjab and Haryana High Court under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The deceased was riding on a bike when he was hit by the vehicle driven by Respondent 3 which resulted in his death. The claim petition filed by dependants of the deceased under Section 166 of MV Act was allowed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which was further enhanced by the High Court on an appeal preferred by the dependants. Aggrieved thereby, the insurance company filed the instant civil appeal.

The Supreme Court perused the orders of the MACT as well as the High Court and found that the order needs to be modified. The Court while disposing of the appeal, inter alia, added, to the already existing heads, two more heads of compensation. Relying on National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the Court held that Loss of Consortium and Loss of Estate are other conventional heads under which compensation is awarded in the event of death. In legal parlance, consortium is a compendious term which encompasses spousal consortium, parental consortium, and filial consortium. The Court observed that the MV Act being a social welfare and beneficial legislation, it was duty-bound to provide just compensation irrespective of whether plea in that behalf is raised or not by the claimant. In exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Court awarded Rs 15,000 towards Loss of Estate. In regard to consortium, it was observed that 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. Reference, in this connection, was made to Rajesh v. Rajbir Singh, (2013) 9 SCC 54. Following the principles of awarding compensation under Loss of Consortium as laid down in Pranay Sethi, the Court awarded a compensation of Rs 80,000 as compensation towards loss of filial consortium. The appeal was accordingly disposed of. [Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1546, decided on 18-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench of N.V. Ramana and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ. allowed an appeal filed by the appellant (insurer) against the judgment and order of Tripura High Court whereby the insurer was directed to pay compensation to the respondents (legal representatives of the deceased) as awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, W.B.

On 20-5-2012, deceased Dilip Bhowmik was returning to his house driving his vehicle. Near the bridge of the Agartala Railway Station, he met with an accident and sustained grievous injuries. He was declared dead on arrival by the hospital. At the relevant time, the deceased was 43 years old. According to respondents, his monthly income was Rs 15,000. They filed a claim petition, pursuant to which the Tribunal passed an award granting compensation of Rs 10,57,800. Aggrieved by the same the insurer filed appeal before the High Court which accepted it’s contention that the deceased was not a third party. However, the High Court directed the insurer to pay the compensation with a rider that it should not be treated as a precedent. Aggrieved thus, the insurer preferred the present appeal.

The Supreme Court considered the submissions of the parties and perused the record. It was noted that it was an admitted position that the deceased was the owner-cum-driver of the vehicle in question. The accident occurred due to rash and negligent driving by the deceased. No other vehicle was involved in the accident. The deceased being the owner of the offending vehicle, was not a third party within the meaning of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The Court referred to the decision in Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jhuma Saha, (2007) 9 SCC 263 and observed that a claimant cannot maintain a claim on the basis of his own fault or rash and negligent driving. Therefore, the respondents being legal representatives of the deceased could not have maintained the claim petition filed under Section 166 of the Act. The Court held that the High Court was not justified in directing the insurer to pay compensation determined by the Tribunal. However, the respondents were held entitled to the indemnification extended to personal accident of the deceased which was limited to Rs 2 lakhs under the contract of insurance. The appeal was disposed of in the terms above. [National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Ashalata Bhowmik,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1264, dated 31-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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

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

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

Hot Off The PressNews

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench comprising of ACJ Gita Mittal and C Hari Shankar J., decided in a petition filed by an activist group ‘Nyayabhoomi’ that every vehicle in Delhi has to comply with the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

In a move to eradicate the VVIP culture, the Delhi High Court issued that all the VVIP ’s including the President, Vice-President, Governor’s and Lt. Governor should get number plates on their cars. No exception has been laid own for the same, as till now the cars of President, Vice-President, and other Constitutional authorities had only the state emblem of India in place of the number plates.

The High Court has directed the Centre and the Delhi Government to ensure that all official cars used by them should get registered at the earliest.

[Source: Financial Express]

Hot Off The PressNews

S.O. 1522(E).— In exercise of the powers conferred by the proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 112 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988) and in suppression of the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part If, Section 3, sub-section (ii) vide number S.0.1997(E) dated the 5thAugust, 2014, excepts as respect things done or omitted to be done before such supersession, Central Government hereby fixes the maximum speed in respect of the class of motor vehicles as specified in the table below:

                                                                TABLE

Maximum speed per hour in kilometres on roads in India
S.No. Class of Motor Vehicles Expressway with Access Control 4 lane and above divided
carriageway (roads with
Median strips/Dividers)
Road within Municipal Limits Other Roads
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
1. Motor vehicles used for carriage of passengers comprising not more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat (Ml category vehicles) 120 100 70 70
2. Motor vehicles used for carriage of passengers comprising nine or more seats in addition to the driver’s seat ( M2 and M3 category Vehicles) 100 90 60 60
3. More vehicles used for carriage of goods (All N category Vehicles) 80 80 60 60
4. Motor Cycles 80* 80 60 60
5. Quadricycle 60 50 50
6. Three wheeled vehicles 50 50 50
* If permitted to ply on Expressway.

2. No cognizance of the violation of the speed limits shall be taken under Section 183 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, if the speed detected is within 5 per cent of the maximum speed specified in this notification.

[F. No. RT-11028/07/2017-MVL]

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: In its recent order, the Court ruled that the insurance company is bound to pay compensation for the accident caused, even if the same occurred abroad. The Bench of Rajbir Sehrawat, J.  set aside the earlier order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Kurukshetra which had absolved the insurance company from its liability and had instead ordered the owners of the bus to pay a compensation of Rs 4, 34,500, in a case where the bus in question carrying 54 pilgrims met with an accident in Nepal.

Justice Sehrawat in his judgement stated, “….the insurance policy is attached to the ‘vehicle’ in question and not to geographical expanse of the area of operation of the vehicle in question…”. He further supplemented the same by saying, “…Motor Vehicles Act extends only to ‘whole of India’ as per  Section 1, so it does not cover the area outside India. However, this rational also does not exempt the Insurance Company from liability arising from the usage of the vehicle outside the geographical area of the Union of India. This section also implies that the Act would be applicable to all the citizens and subjects of India qua all the Motor Vehicular aspects in India. It does not exclude the liability of one citizen or entity of India qua the other citizen of India even if the same is incurred outside the geographical area of Union of India…” [Anil Kumar v. Roop Kumar Sharma, FAO No. 152 of 2017, decided on 13.11.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While delivering the judgment in a miscellaneous first appeal filed under Section 173(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, a Single Judge Bench of Raghvendra S. Chauhan, J. set aside the impugned judgment and award passed by the IInd Additional District and Sessions Judge whereby he directed the appellant to pay compensation of Rs. 75,000 to the respondent.

The respondent-claimant was engaged in business of transporting good. On the date of incident they were transporting 15 KVA DG set in a Canter Tempo which was hit by a KSRTC bus, which caused damage to the said goods. The respondent-claimant paid Rs. 75,000 for the repair of the said goods and hence claimed compensation of the same amount from the appellant-insurance company.

The appellant-insurance company raised a preliminary objection of maintainability of the claim petition contending that the claimant was not the owner of goods and under Section 166 of the MV Act, only the owner of the goods was entitled to claim compensation.

The High Court after perusing the impugned award and Section 166 of the MV Act held that according to Section 166(1)(b) of the Act, it is only the owner of the property who is entitled to file the application for compensation. A transporter is a mere agent of the owner of the goods. Therefore the respondent-claimant could not have filed the petition for compensation under S. 166 of the Act. Accordingly, the claim petition filed by the respondent was held not maintainable. The appeal was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [The Manager, The Oriental Insurance Company Limited v. M/s Rao and Brothers, Miscellaneous First Appeal No. 6042 of 2014 (MV), dated August 18, 2017]