Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of S. Sujatha and Sachin Shankar Magadum JJ., allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment.

The facts of the case are such that the deceased, Chandrashekhar along with Kumar and other inmates were proceeding in a Maruthi Van from Kanipakam to Thimmasanapalli during which the deceased who was driving the vehicle lost control over the vehicle and met with an accident due to which Chandrashekhar and the inmate both died on the spot. The claimants filed a claim petition contending that the deceased was 27 years old and drawing salary as a Supervisor of around Rs 2,00,000 per annum. The Tribunal restricted the income of the deceased at Rs 40,000 and dismissed the claim petition as Chandrashekhar was a tort-feasor and hence the claimants are not entitled to compensation. Being aggrieved by the same, the claimants have preferred the instant appeal.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that the Tribunal has erred in observing that the deceased was a tort feasor and the accident is due to his negligence and rash driving. It was further submitted that there is no limit that the income should not exceed more than Rs 40,000 per year and the schedule is only a guidance to arrive at a multiplier as per Section 163-A of Motor Vehicle Act. It was also submitted that the Tribunal has inherent power to grant compensation by applying current provision of law and also that under Section 163-A the claimants need not prove the rash and negligent act of the driver.

The Court relied on judgment Ningamma v. United India Insurance Company, (2009) 13 SCC 710 and observed that absence of any specific claim under Section 166 MV Act in pleadings would not be an impediment for the Tribunal to examine the claimant’s rights under Section 166 MV Act. The claimants could not be deprived of getting just compensation in the cases where the claimants can make out a case under Section 166 MV Act.

The Court thus held that the claimants in the instant case have filed a claim petition contending that the deceased gad an annual income of Rs 2,10,000 per annum. Since the income of the deceased per annum exceeds the prescribed slab under Section 163 A of MV Act hence the matter was directed to be remanded back to the Tribunal for fresh consideration.

In view of the above, appeal was allowed.[Narayamaswamy v. Venkatesh. B, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 202, decided on 01-02-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of P. R. Ramchandra Menon and Parth Prateem Sahu JJ., allowed the appeal partly and modified the impugned award.

The facts of the case are such that on 04-07-2012, claimant while returning with his friend form Masturi to his village Tikari on Tata Magic (hereinafter referred to as ‘offending vehicle’), met with an accident and turned turtle wherein the claimant and other passengers suffered grievous injuries. An application was filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 i.e M.V. Act seeking compensation and Rs 6, 50,000 was granted vide award dated 06-01-2014 passed by the 6th Additional Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh i.e. MACT. Aggrieved by the same, instant appeal was filed by the insurance company/ appellants under Section 173 challenging the impugned award.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that that on the date of accident, there was no valid and effective driving licence with driver of the offending vehicle, there was no valid permit, fitness and registration and thereby there was breach of conditions of insurance policy, hence, the Insurance Company is not liable to indemnity the injured. It was also submitted that MACT while deciding the issue with regard to breach of conditions of insurance policy has only taken into consideration the issue of driving licence and decided the issue but did not consider the ground of permit raised by appellant/Insurance Company specifically, though recorded in the impugned award.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that MACT after taking into consideration the entire pleading and evidence placed on record, has passed just and proper award, which does not call for any interference.

During investigations, permit was not produced and the owner of the offending vehicle did not present himself as witness before court though filed reply to the claim petition. It was further found on examination of other witnesses that insurance policy was issued for the offending vehicle and the vehicle was insured as ‘Passenger Carrying Commercial Vehicle’, for which, permit is necessary.

Section 66 (1) of the M.V. Act provides for the necessity for permits, which reads as under for easy reference:

“66. Necessity for permits.-(1) No owner of a motor vehicle shall use or permit the use of the vehicle as a transport vehicle in any public place whether or not such vehicle is actually carrying any passengers or goods save in accordance with the conditions of a permit granted or countersigned by a Regional or State Transport Authority or any prescribed authority authorising him the use of the vehicle in that place in the manner in which the vehicle is being used:

Provided that a stage carriage permit shall, subject to any conditions that may be specified in the permit, authorise the use of the vehicle as a contract carriage:

Provided further that a stage carriage permit may, subject to any conditions that may be specified in the permit, authorise the use of the vehicle as a goods carriage either when carrying passengers or not:

Provided also that a goods carriage permit shall, subject to any conditions that may be specified in the permit, authorise the holder to use the vehicle for the carriage of goods for or in connection with a trade or business carried on by him.”

The Court observed that from perusal of aforementioned provisions of Section 166 of the M.V. Act, the requirement of permit has been made mandatory for use of the vehicle as ‘Transport Vehicle’ in any public place for carrying passengers or goods.

The Court thus held that MACT erred in not considering that non-applicants 1 and 2 i.e. driver and owner of the offending vehicle failed to produce permit of the offending vehicle and in absence of it, there will be breach of conditions of insurance policy.

In view of above, appellant/Insurance Company is exonerated from its liability to satisfy the amount of compensation and the liability to satisfy the amount of compensation shall be upon non-applicants No.1 and 2 i.e. driver and owner of the offending vehicle. The Court further directed the insurance company to pay the amount as the insurance of the vehicle is not denied, it is insured as ‘Passenger Carrying Vehicle’ and later the insurance company must recover the same amount from the owner and driver of the offending vehicle.

In view of the above, appeal allowed partly and disposed off.[Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. v. Sudhir Kumar, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 835, decided on 23-09-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker, J., while addressing the matter observed that:

“…where there are multiple claims, MACT should place all the matters before the same Tribunal and the same tribunal should consolidate the matter and decide the same.” 

The instant appeal was at the behest of the claimants preferred against the award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

Factual Matrix

An accident took place on 26-02-2009 when the deceased along with her husband and another person namely Harendra Singh and others were travelling. The car was being driven by the claimant i.e. the husband. Further, it has been stated that a tanker coming from the opposite direction very negligently and carelessly turned to the right side of the road and rammed into the car causing an accident in which the wife of Harendra Singh, wife of claimant 1 and one other person namely child sustained multiple injuries.

Harendra Singh’s wife died due to the injuries and claimant’s wife suffered pain for almost about 3 months due to which she was hospitalised and later died.

Tribunal

Tribunal framed several issues and came to the conclusion that the husband of the deceased namely claimant 1 who was equally negligent and written the finding of the contributory negligence thereby halving the compensation awarded to the claimants.

Matter being considered in the High Court

In the above-background, the instant matter requires to be considered. the appellants are the legal heirs of the deceased.

Legal representatives rather heirs of the deceased felt aggrieved with the tribunals’ finding on the issue of negligence and compensation as far as the decision of the tribunal on other issues was concerned they attained finality.

Out of the said accident, as has been stated above, one other claim petition was being preferred by Harinder Singh v. Kamal Singh, MACP No. 104 of 2009 under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. This matter was tried before another tribunal wherein it was decided that the driver of the truck was solely negligent and claimants were to be compensated.

The above-stated decision was placed before the tribunal whose order is impugned.

Analysis and Decision

The truck rammed into the car causing 3 casualties of persons travelling in the Maruti van and caused injuries to other inmates of the car.

Supreme Court in the decision of Sudarsan Puhan v. Jayanta Mohanty, (2018) 10 SCC 552 and UPSRTC v. Mamta, (2016) 4 SCC 172 held that the appeal is a continuation of the earlier proceedings and High Court is under the legal obligation to decide all the issues of lis and decide it by giving reasons.

Bench stated that the tribunal has committed an error which is apparent on the face of the record and is against the settled principles of law.

Court dealt with the issue in the instant case under separate heads:

Issue of Negligence even in absence of applicability of the doctrine of res judicata and whether the same was rightly decided by the tribunal

Negligence: It means the failure to exercise care towards others which a reasonable and prudent person would in a circumstance or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.

If the injury rather death is caused by something owned or controlled by the negligent party then he is directly liable otherwise the principle of “res ipsa loquitur” meaning thereby “the things speak for itself” would apply.

Contributory Negligence: A person who either contributes or is co-author of the accident would be liable for his contribution to the accident having taken place.

Supreme Court recently in the decision of Archit Saini v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., (2018) 3 SCC 365, considered the principles of negligence.

In the decision of Khenyei v. New India Assurance Company Ltd., 2015 LawSuit (SC) 469, the question of joint and several liability was considered.

In the case of contributory negligence, a person who has himself contributed to the extent cannot claim compensation for the injuries sustained by him in the accident to the extent of his own negligence; whereas, in the case of composite negligence, a person who has suffered has not contributed to the accident but the outcome of the combination of the negligence of two or more other persons.

Hence, it can be seen that there is a difference between contributory and composite negligence.

Supreme Court in the decision of T.O. Anthony v. Karvarnan, (2008) 3 SCC 748 has held that in case of composite negligence, injured need not establish the extent of responsibility of each wrong doer separately, nor is it necessary for the court to determine the extent of liability of each wrong doer separately.

Qua applicability Of Doctrine Of Res Judicata where Decision On Negligence Was Decided By competent Tribunal in Claim Arising Out Of The Same Accident :

Doctrine of res judicata applies even if the decision by the earlier court is right or wrong but if it has attained finality between parties the doctrine shall apply and issues decided.

In light of the Gujarat High Court’s decision in United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Lajibhia Hamirbhai, the issue of negligence will operate as res judicata.

It is held in the said case that where the parties in two petitions are same, except the claimant, the decision by the tribunal in petition decided earlier, would operate as ‘res judicata’ as far as the issue of negligence is concerned in a subsequent petition.

Supreme Court’s decision in Ishwardas v. State of M.P., (1979) 4 SCC 163, it was held that in order to sustain the plea of res judicata, it is not necessary that all the parties to the litigations must be common. All that is necessary is that the issue should be between the same parties or between the parties under whom they or any of them claimed.

In the instant case, the claimants were being heirs of the deceased who succumbed to the injuries and qua them even if the tribunal was of the opinion that the driver of the car was negligent therefore it was a case of composite negligence.

Court concluded that there was no rebuttable evidence before the tribunal to hold the driver of the car also negligent. Tribunal misdirected itself in venturing to decide the issue afresh without discussing why he would not follow the earlier decision, therefore the said decision required modification.

Question of Legal Representative 

Section 2 (11) of the Code of Civil Procedure defines the term ‘legal representative’.

In the Supreme Court decision of GSRTC v. Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai, (1987) 3 SCC 234, it was held that for claiming compensation under either of the Acts the term legal cannot be given a narrow meaning as ascribed in Fatal Accidents Act 1855. Major, married son & earning son of the deceased can claim compensation. Dependency is not basic criteria for relief in accident cases to the claimants if they are a legal heir or legal representative of the deceased.

Legal Representative of Owner of Vehicle

Claimants before this Court and tribunal are the legal representatives of the deceased as they are husband and children who fall in Class-I heirship.

Hence, in view of the above, the deduction of compensation of claimant 1 by the tribunal cannot be sustained as he was claiming as an heir and not the driver or injured.

Compensation

Relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in Laxmidhar Nayak v. Jugal Kishore Behera, (2018) 1 SCC 746, it was held that the income of the housewife in the year 2009 would be Rs 4,000 per month, the amount would be Rs 48,000 per annum, to which as the deceased was 38 years of age, 25% will have to be added as she was self-employed.

Hence, the appeal was partly allowed and the Judgment and Decree passed by the tribunal shall stand modified to the aforesaid extent.

While parting with the judgment, the Court held that a direction is required to be given to all tribunals in the State that where there are multiple claims, MACT should place all the matters before the same Tribunal and the same tribunal should consolidate the matter and decide so that the situation as it arose in the present matter may not arise.[Dharam Veer v. Kamal Singh, 2020 SCC OnLine All 1404, decided on 26-11-2020]


Advocates who appeared for the matter:

Counsel for Appellant:- Mohan Srivastav
Counsel for Respondent:- Rahul Sahai, K.K.D

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines, 2020 as per the requirements and provisions of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 and further as per the amended Section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The objectives of issuing these guidelines include:

• Regulating shared mobility and reducing traffic congestion and pollution, the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 has been amended by the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019  to include the definition of the term ‘aggregator’.

• Prior to the amendment the regulation of Aggregator was not available

• To provide ease of doing business, customer safety and driver welfare

The Guidelines provide for – 

• License issued by the State Government is a mandatory pre-requisite for permitting business operations by the aggregator.

• For regulating the aggregators, the guidelines specified by the Central Government may be followed by State Governments

• In order to ensure compliance with the license requirements the Act stipulates penalties under Section 93 of the Act.

• These Guidelines seek to establish a regulatory framework for aggregators by State Governments to ensure that the aggregator’s are accountable and responsible for the operations executed by them.

• The business shall also be considered as a service provided by the aggregators to serve the larger public interest in terms of generation of employment, commutation facilities to the public which is cost-effective and comfortable.

• enable the government to achieve its goal of ensuring maximisation of using public transport, reduced fuel consumption consequently reducing the import bill, reduced vehicular pollution thereby reduced harm to human health.

• This Ministry vide notification dated S.O. No. 5333(E) dated 18th October, 2018 has exempted the electric vehicles and vehicles running on Ethanol or Methanol from the requirements of Permit. The State Governments to facilitate operations of such vehicles.

Proposed Guidelines to ensure –

  • regulation of aggregators,
  •  eligibility conditions/qualifications for of an entity to be an aggregator,
  • compliances with regard to vehicles and drivers
  • compliances with regard to Aggregator App and Website
  • manner of fare regulation,
  • drivers welfare
  • service to citizens parameters and ensuring safety
  • evolving concepts like pooling and ride-sharing in private cars,
  • license fees/security deposit and powers that the State Governments

In a communication to all the States and UTs today, the Ministry has stressed upon implementing these guidelines.


Ministry of Road Transport & Highways

[Press Release dt. 27-11-2020]

[Source: PIB]

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.,   2020 SCC OnLine All 1315, decided on 15-10-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

Bombay High Court: M.G. Giratkar, J., allowed an appeal filed against the order of the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (“MACT”) whereby the appellants-claimants were granted a compensation of Rs 3.7 lakhs.

A boy aged 7 years died in a motor accident. Considering the claim raised by the appellants (parents of the deceased), the MACT granted a compensation of Rs 3.7 lakhs by taking into consideration a notional income of Rs 20,000 per year. Against that order, the appellants filed the instant appeal seeking enhancement in the amount of compensation granted.

Monali Pathade, Advocate, appeared for the appellants. She submitted that the deceased was helping his father with his business. On the other hand, Anita Mategaonkar, Advocate, represented the insurer — Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd.

The High Court noted that as the MACT, the deceased was a brilliant student and had a bright future. The Court then referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Kishan Gopal v. Lala, (2014) 1 SCC 244, where the deceased boy aged about 10 years was assisting in his father’s agricultural work. In that case, the Supreme Court took into consideration the drastically falling rupee value and assessed the notional income of the deceased at Rs 30,000 per annum and adopted a multiplier of 15.

The High Court observed that “notional income in the Second Schedule of Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, was inserted long back.” Accordingly, the Court held that in view of the Supreme Court decision in Kishan Gopal v. Lala, (2014) 1 SCC 244, the appellants were entitled to an increased compensation of Rs 5 lakhs along with the interest of 7.5% per annum from the date of filing of the claim petition till its realisation. [Praveen v. Baby Ulhahnan, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 194, decided on 30-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This appeal was filed before a Single Judge Bench of Lisa Gill, J., by the Insurance Company challenging its liability to pay compensation to the claimants which was awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

Facts of the case were that the claim petition was filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, by the claimant-respondent and the same was decided by the Tribunal and compensation of Rs 2,89,012 along with interest at the rate of 6% per annum was awarded on account of injuries received by respondent in the motor vehicle accident. Appellant i.e. the insurance company contended that the Tribunal erred in holding that a valid driving license was present with the driver of the offending vehicle. Offending vehicle being a bus. It was further submitted that ‘unladen weight’ and ‘gross vehicle weight’ are distinct from each other. And according to the driving license he was not entitled to drive the bus.

High Court observed that the driving license found with the offending vehicle’s driver was valid for a transport vehicle. The appellant had failed to show that the driving license was valid for driving of Light Motor Vehicle Non-Transport, Transport Vehicle and Light Motor Vehicle CAB. It was also observed that the distinction between the ‘unladen weight’ and the ‘gross vehicle weight’ was irrelevant. Since appellant had failed to show that respondent was carrying an invalid driving license the appeal should be dismissed. Therefore, on finding no ground to interfere in the impugned order, this appeal was dismissed. [United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Gurchain Singh, 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 2723, decided on 20-12-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana and M.M. Shantanagoudar, JJ. allowed an appeal for enhancing the compensation awarded under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 by the Kerala High Court.

The claimants were the dependants (wife, 2 children, and aged father) of the deceased who died in an accident in 2008. The moved a claim petition before the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal seeking a total compensation of Rs 25,00,000. The Tribunal granted a compensation of Rs 11,83,000 which was enhanced by the High Court by an additional award of Rs 9,70,000. The claimants preferred the instant appeal for further enhancing the compensation.

The Supreme Court considered the salary certificate of the deceased, cost of living, and other relevant factors. It was held that the High Court was not right in deducting 2/3rd of the deceased’s total income towards his personal expenses and was of the view that a deduction of 40% would be appropriate for quantifying compensation. In the opinion of the Court, the claimants were entitled to a total compensation of Rs 28,00,000 which interestingly was higher than the amount claimed by the dependants of the deceased. Referring to Nagappa v. Gurudayal Singh, (2003) 2 SCC 274; Magma General Insurance v. Nanu Ram, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1546 and Ibrahim v. Raju, (2011) 10 SCC 634, the Court observed, “There is no restriction that the Court cannot award compensation exceeding the claimed amount, since the function of the Tribunal or Court under Section 168 of the Motor Vehicles  Act, 1988 is to award ‘just compensation’. The Motor Vehicles Act is a beneficial and welfare legislation. A ‘just compensation’ is one in which reasonable on the basis of evidence produced on record. It cannot be said to have become time-barred. Further, there is no need for a new cause of action to claim an enhanced amount. The Courts are duty to award just compensation.”

The appeal was thus allowed and disposed of in terms above. [Ramla v. National Insurance Company Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2616, decided on 30-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: An appeal was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Harinder Singh Sidhu, J., filed against an award of Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, where appellants were made jointly and severally liable to pay compensation instead of Insurance Company.

The facts of the case are that an accident took place between a motorcycle and a bus due to which one person died. The brother of the deceased filed FIR under Sections 279, 304-A of Indian Penal Code. The Tribunal awarded compensation concluding the accident to be a result of rash and negligent driving of bus driver. While imposing liability Tribunal found the bus to be insured and was of the view that under Section 6 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 no driver can validly hold two driving license and hence driver and its owner cannot escape liability by first showing a fake license and then another license.

Appellant contended that if one license is found to be fake then the question of the existence of two licenses cannot be sustained. Whereas respondent agreed with the findings of Tribunal. High Court was of the view that the validity of driving license was not checked by the respondent i.e. insurer company, therefore, the same is presumed to be valid. Court viewed that onus to prove the genuineness of driving license is on respondent and as the respondent failed to show that the second license was also fake it cannot escape its liability. Though a provision is there to that effect that a person cannot hold more than one driving license it cannot be said that on finding one license to be fake another license cannot be valid. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and insurance company was made liable to pay the compensation amount. [Matan Shiv Shakti Co. Op. Tpt, Society Ltd. v. Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Co., 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 1295, decided on 11-09-2018]

Amendments to existing lawsLegislation Updates

In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988), the Central Government vide G.S.R. 871(E) notified the Central Motor Vehicles (12th Amendment) Rules, 2018 on 13-09-2018, to amend the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, namely: —

In the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, in Rule 115, in sub-rule (15),-

(i) in clause (a), after the sixth proviso and before the Explanation, the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:-

“Provided also that nothing in this clause shall apply to the special purpose vehicles (armoured and other specialised vehicles) used for operational purposes for maintenance of law and order and internal security, for a period up to 31st December, 2019;”;

(ii) in clause (aa), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:-

“Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply to the special purpose vehicles (armoured and other specialised vehicles) used for operational purposes for maintenance of law and order and internal security, for a period up to 31-12-2019;”.

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman and Indu Malhotra, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the order of Bombay High Court passed in a claim under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The appellant, 29 years of age, suffered multiple injuries in an accident with a car driven by Respondent 1. He suffered permanent disability to the extent of 75%. The Courts below found, on evidence, that Respondent 1 was driving the car rashly and negligently. As a consequence, the appellant lost his livelihood – job of a driver. It is pertinent to note that before the accident, he was drawing a monthly salary of Rs 8500. The appellant filed a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which was partly allowed. However, dissatisfied with the quantum of compensation, an appeal was filed before the High Court which erroneously concluded that it would be just and appropriate if monthly income of the appellant was considered to be Rs 5000. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court, at the outset, observed that in cases of motor accidents leading to injuries and disablement, it is a well-settled principle that a person must be compensated for physical injuries as well as non-pecuniary losses suffered due to the injury. It was reiterated that the purpose of compensation under the Act is to fully and adequately restore the aggrieved to the position prior to the accident. Reference was also made to Yadav Kumar v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2010) 10 SCC 341; Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121 and Raj Kumar v. Ajay Kumar, (2011) 1 SCC 343. It was held that effect of permanent disability on the earning capacity of the injured must be considered while awarding the compensation. Considering all the facts, the Supreme Court computed the just compensation amounting to Rs 20,29,000 to be awarded to the appellant. The civil appeal was accordingly allowed. [Anant v. Pratap,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 1082, dated 21-08-2018]