Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, JJ., while addressing the matter with regard to the assignment of the registration number of a motor vehicle made an observation that:

Reservation of registration numbers considered attractive is only as an exception to the general procedure of assignment of registration numbers falling in serial order after the last registration mark assigned, and the same is to be made as per the procedure prescribed under sub-rule (2) of Rule 51-A.

The instant petition was filed seeking for a direction to respondent 2 to provide Registration No. U.P. 85BQ-0001 of LMV to the petitioner and extend the period of two weeks for getting the stated registration number.

Petitioner’s Counsel, Ghanshyam Dwivedi submitted that the petitioner had applied for getting a V.I.P number of the vehicle by depositing Rs 1,00,000 as a fee, however, he wasn’t able to purchase the vehicle.

Since petitioner now wanted to purchase the vehicle, therefore he sought a direction to grant two weeks time to purchase the vehicle and accordingly the V.I.P number may be allotted.

Standing Counsel, Girish Chandra Vishwakarma submitted that in view of the provisions of clauses (v) and (vi) of sub-rule (2) of Rule 51-A of the U.P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1981, neither registration number can be allotted nor reservation fee can be refunded to him.

Analysis and Decision

Section 41 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 provides the manner in which registration is to be made.

As per Section 41(6), the registering authority is to assign to the vehicle, for display thereon, a distinguishing mark, referred to as the registration mark, consisting of one of the groups of such of those letters and followed by such letters and figures as are allotted to the State by the Central Government from time to time by notification in the Official Gazette, and displayed and shown on the motor vehicle in such form and in such manner as may be provided by the Central Government.

Rule 51-A of the Uttar Pradesh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1998 relates to the allotment of registration marks.

Sub-Rule (1) of Rule 51-A of the above-stated rules provides that the assignment of registration mark to motor vehicles shall be as per the Central Government’s notification issued under Section 41(6) of the Act, 1988.

As per the procedure under sub-rule (2), on receipt of an application in the prescribed format under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, the Registering Authority shall assign a registration number which falls in serial order after the last registration mark assigned subject to the provision for reservation of any registration number as considered necessary to be assigned to the vehicles of Government, as provided under clause (i) of sub-rule (2), or to reserve registration numbers considered attractive as per the procedure provided under sub-rule (2).

Bench stated that in the instant case, although the reservation of the registration number was obtained by depositing the prescribed fee but the vehicle was not purchased so far.

Since, the petitioner failed to produce the vehicle within 30 days as prescribed with an application namely Form-20 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1983, the registration number shall be cancelled, the same number hence can be allotted to any other person.

The registration fee deposited also cannot be refunded in view of the bar contained in clause (v) of Rule 51-A (2).

Assignment of Registration Number

Court observed that the assignment of registration numbers as per the statutory provisions are to be made in serial order after the last registration mark assigned, the reservation of registration numbers can be made only as are considered necessary to be assigned to the vehicles of the Government, or in case of registration number considered attractive, the reservation may be made for any person who submits an application and makes the payment as per the procedure prescribed.

The conditions prescribed in respect of reservation of registration numbers, as are considered attractive, include a clear stipulation under clause (vi) of sub-rule (2) that the reservation of registration number shall be cancelled if the vehicle is not produced within thirty days from the date of reserving the registration number and the number so cancelled can be allotted to any other person by Registering Authority who makes an application along with the fees prescribed.

Petitioner’s application for reservation of a V.I.P number is therefore subject to the conditions provided with regard to the same under sub-rule (2) of Rule 51-A of the Rules, 1998, hence no relief was granted to the petitioner.[Rajesh Gaur v. State of U.P., Writ A No. 7938 of 2020, decided on 15-10-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Hemant Chandangoudar J., dismissed the appeal and upheld the impugned award and judgment regarding compensation.

The facts of the case are such that the claimants have sustained accidental injuries on 30-03-2010 due to rash and negligent driving of the Toofan Jeep, and thereby filed claim petitions under Section 166 of Motor Vehicle Act to award just and proper compensation. The Tribunal awarded compensation by judgment and award dated 27-04-2013. Aggrieved by the same the instant appeals have been filed by the Insurance Company challenging the impugned judgment and award.

Counsel for the Insurance Company submitted that the Tribunal has committed an error in fastening liability on the insurance company as the vehicle was insured for private purpose whereas during the accident it was plyed on hire and hence was in violation of the comprehensive policy and against the provisions of Section 149 (2) of MV Act.

The Court relied on judgment titled United India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Kalawathi, ILR 2001 KAR 2328 and observed that

“That apart we do not find any rationale for the insurer as a ‘State’ to discriminate between the paid inmate and the gratuitous inmate when the vehicle is a private vehicle plyed on hire, the owner may be liable for the penal and fiscal consequences under the Motor Vehicle Act for payment of penalty and taxes applicable to the commercial vehicles. But from the standpoint of the insurer, it makes no difference whether the inmate is a paid passenger or gratuitous passenger. When the policy issued is a comprehensive policy covering risk of inmates of private vehicle, the insurer cannot avoid liability on the ground that the inmate is a paid passenger. In that view, we hold that the terms in the policy, which discriminates the liability of the insurer for the paid inmate and gratuitous inmate is discriminatory and illegal.”

The Court held that no discrimination would be made between the paid inmate and gratuitous inmate when the vehicle is covered with a comprehensive policy. If the vehicle is a private vehicle, plyed on hire, the owner may be liable for the penal and fiscal consequences under the provisions of MV Act for payment of penalty and taxes but the insurer cannot avoid liability. Hence, fastening of liability on the Insurance Company to pay compensation cannot be found fault with.

In view of the above, appeals were dismissed.[United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Basavaraj, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 1652, decided on 02-11-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: When a practicing advocate, had suffered in nasty accident at the young age of 18 years, in which his entire left leg was crushed, approached the Court with the plea seeking reform in the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims system, the bench of Dr. AK Sikri and SA Nazeer, JJ asked the Government to consider the feasibility of enacting Indian Mediation Act to take care of various aspects of mediation in general.

The Court also issued the following directions:

  1. The Government may examine the feasibility of setting up Motor Accidents Mediation Authority (MAMA) by making necessary amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act.
  2. In the interregnum, NALSA is directed to set up Motor Accident Mediation Cell which can function independently under the aegis of NALSA or can be handed over to MCPC. Such a project should be prepared within a period of two months and it should start functioning immediately thereafter at various levels as suggested in this judgment. We reiterate the directions contained in order dated November 6, 2017 in Jai Prakash case for implementation of the latest Modified Claims Tribunal Agreed Procedure. For ensuring such implementation, NALSA is directed to take up the same in coordination and cooperation with various High Courts. MACAD Scheme shall be implemented by all Claim Tribunals on All India basis. Banks, Members of Indian Banks Assocation, who had taken decision to implement MACAD Scheme would do the same on All India basis.
  3. The Government should look into the feasibility of framing necessary schemes and for the availability of annuity certificates. This exercise may be done within the period of six months and decision be taken thereupon.
  4. There should be programmes from time to time, in all State Judicial Academies, to sensitizing the Presiding Officers of the Claims Tribunals, Senior Police Officers of the State Police as well as Insurance Company for the implementation of the said Procedure.

The appellant had prayed for:

  • On-road safety and grant of adequate compensation to the victims without any delay. For ensuring expeditious settlement of claims, resort to alternate means which may include innovative measures.
  • Taking adequate steps including adopting innovative measures, to ensure fast track disposal of cases by MACTs.
  • Ensuring receipt of compensation in the safe hands of victims and/or kiths and kins of victims, that too over a sustained period.

[MR Krishna Murthi v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine SC 315, decided on 05.03.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In reference relating to the computation of compensation under Sections 163-A and 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act) and the methodology for computation of future prospects, giving a unanimous decision, the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ held that 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 Act. The bench said:

“To follow the doctrine of actual income at the time of death and not to add any amount with regard to future prospects to the income for the purpose of determination of multiplicand would be unjust.”

Stating that this concept is to be applied to salaried employees and self-employed persons, both, the Court explained that the purchasing capacity of a salaried person on permanent job when increases because of grant of increments and pay revision or for some other change in service conditions, there is always a competing attitude in the private sector to enhance the salary to get better efficiency from the employees. Similarly, a person who is self-employed is bound to garner his resources and raise his charges/fees so that he can live with same facilities. Regarding self-employed persons it was said:

“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.”

The Court, hence, laid down the following guidelines for computation of compensation:

  • While determining the income, an addition of 50% of actual salary to the income of the deceased towards future prospects, where the deceased had a permanent job and was below the age of 40 years, should be made. The addition should be 30%, if the age of the deceased was between 40 to 50 years. In case the deceased was between the age of 50 to 60 years, the addition should be 15%. Actual salary should be read as actual salary less tax.
  • In case the deceased was self-employed or on a fixed salary, an addition of 40% of the established income should be the warrant where the deceased was below the age of 40 years. An addition of 25% where the deceased was between the age of 40 to 50 years and 10% where the deceased was between the age of 50 to 60 years should be regarded as the necessary method of computation. The established income means the income minus the tax component.
  • 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. [National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1270, decided on 31.10.2017]

 

Case BriefsForeign Courts

High Court of Australia: In the instant case, the respondent sustained serious spinal injuries which rendered her paraplegic, when she was thrown from the back seat of a car being driven by the appellant who was drunk at the time of the accident. The issue for determination was whether the respondent was contributorily negligent  for choosing to travel in the car driven by the appellant when she ought to have known that he was intoxicated and, secondly, for failing to engage her seatbelt.

The trial Judge rejected the contention of the respondent that the appellant’s erratic driving had prevented her from fastening her seatbelt and held that failure to wear a seatbelt constitutes contributory negligence under Section 49 of the Civil Liability Act 1936. The Judge further held that the exception in Section 47(2)(b) of the Act applies in the present case as the respondent could not reasonably be expected to have avoided the risk of riding with the appellant in the circumstances. On appeal, a majority of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia dismissed the appellant’s appeal on the Section 47(2)(b) issue, and allowed the respondent’s cross-appeal on the issue of Section 49 and held that her failure to fasten her seatbelt was a result of her direct and natural response to the appellant’s erratic driving.

The appellant appealed to the High Court on both issues. A bench of French CJ, Kiefel, Bell, Keane And Gordon JJ unanimously dismissed the appeal on the Section 47(2)(b) issue and held that the respondent, who suffered major injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident, was not contributorily negligent under Section 47 of the Civil Liability Act 1936 for travelling in a car driven by an intoxicated driver, as according to the facts of the case, she could not reasonably be expected to have avoided the risk of travelling with the appellant. However, the Court allowed the appeal and affirmed the trial judge’s finding that the appellant’s driving did not prevent the respondent from fastening her seatbelt and accordingly held that the respondent was contributorily negligent under Section 49 of the Act for failing to wear the seatbelt. [Alex Allen v. Danielle Louise Chadwick, decided on 9-12-2015]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court:  While dealing with the never ending dissension regarding the compensation to be granted in Motor Vehicle Accident cases, a three Judge Bench comprising of Anil R. Dave, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph,  JJ., held that the correct multiplier to be used shall be with reference to the age of the deceased and not that of the dependents as there is certainty with regard to the age of the deceased but as far as that of dependants is concerned, there will always be room for dispute as to whether the age of the eldest or youngest or even the average, etc., is to be taken. Also, in case of a self-employed bachelor, 50% deduction shall be made towards personal and living expenses.

The present case evolved from the decision of the Motor Vehicles Claim Tribunal and the subsequent appeal in the High Court regarding the award granted for the loss of dependency wherein the claimants are the parents of the deceased, a self-employed bachelor aged 30 years.

The Court with regards to the deduction towards personal and living expenses, fixed it at 50% in cases of bachelors as they would be expected to spend more on themselves unless there is evidence of the dependents. With regards to the multiplier used, the bench altered it from 13 to 17 as the age of the deceased is to be considered while determining the multiplier and the deceased was between 26 to 30 years.  Munna Lal Jain v. Vipin Kumar Sharma2015 SCC OnLine SC 505, decided on 15.05.2015

 

 

Amendments to existing lawsLegislation UpdatesStatutes/Bills/Ordinances

Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act, 2015 received the assent of the President on 19-03-2015. The objective of the Act is to further amend the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and replace the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015. The Act provides for following amendments in the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988:

  • Insertion of a new Section 2A, which brings e-carts and e-rickshaws under the ambit of Motor Vehicle Act, and provides that the provisions of the Act shall apply to e-carts and e-rickshaws as well. The Section further defines “e-cart or e-rickshaw” as ‘a special purpose battery powered vehicle of power not exceeding 4000 watts, having three wheels for carrying goods or passengers, as the case may be, for hire or reward, manufactured, constructed or adapted, equipped and maintained in accordance with such specifications, as may be prescribed in this behalf’.
  • Amendment in Section 7 so as provide that the restrictions on the granting of learner’s licenses for certain vehicle shall not be applicable on e-cart or e-rickshaw.
  • Amendment in Section 9 so as to provide that notwithstanding anything contained in this section for grant of driving licence, the driving licence to drive e-cart or e-rickshaw shall be issued in such manner and subject to such conditions, as may be prescribed in the Act.
  • Amendment in Section 27 in order to empower the Central Government to make rules with respect to specifications relating to e-carts and e-rickshaws, as well as the manner and conditions subject to which the driving licence for e-carts and e-rickshaws may be issued.

-Ministry of Law and Justice.