Case Briefs

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Manindra Mohan Srivastava, CJ and Madan Gopal Vyas, J., dismissed the petition and directed the authorities that buses will only stand at the places earmarked.

The instant PIL was filed praying that instead of making operational bus-stand at the place donated by the petitioner, as per decision already taken, buses are operating from the main road seriously affecting the movement of the vehicles and also giving rise to apprehension of the accidents.

A compliance report was submitted stating that the bus-stand has now been made operational from the land given by way of donation by the petitioner, situated at village Shiv, District Barmer

The Court observed and held that as the bus-stand at the located place has become operational, “we are inclined to dispose off this PIL at this stage. The respondent authorities are, however, directed to ensure that no place other than the place earmarked for the bus-stand is allowed for standing buses and picking up or dropping the passengers.”

[Loonkaran v. State of Rajasthan, D.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 13700/2020, decided on 07-03-2022]


For Petitioner(s): Mr. Amit Vyas

For Respondent(s): Mr. Sunil Beniwal with Mr. Saransh Vij, Mr. G.R. Kalla, Mr. Harshit Bhurani


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of S.G Pandit and Anant Ramanath Hegde, JJ. allowed the appeal and modified the impugned order by enhancing the compensation. 

The facts of the case are such that the claimant  suffered 40% permanent disability around his pelvic region, (on account of injuries which are referred later) claimed compensation of Rs.11,75,000/-, the Tribunal awarded a compensation of Rs.3,73,988/-. The doctor who treated the claimant assessed permanent disability at 40%. The doctor opined that the claimant is unable to achieve a penile erection and nocturnal penile tumescence and thereby unable to copulate. According to the doctor, the condition is irreversible. Thus, the claimant who was aged 14 at the time of the accident was in appeal. The insurer having admitted the liability did not question the award but challenged the appeal for enhancement of the compensation by the instant appeal.

 The Court observed that the petitioner has suffered permanent disability in respect of his sexual organ, as well as around hip which is irreversible. The loss of the petitioner, who is deprived of marriage prospects and pleasure of marital life and having children, cannot be adequately compensated in terms of money. Nevertheless, to mitigate the pain and agony, monetary compensation is to be awarded. The quantum of compensation to be awarded by the Tribunal depends upon the gravity of the injury, the pain and agony suffered by the claimant. There should be some logical and rational nexus between the compensation awarded and the pain suffered by the claimant. The compensation should offer solace to the victim of the accident.

The Court observed that given the kind of disability suffered by the claimant, the mental trauma which the claimant has to undergo for the rest of his life, is much more painful than the physical pain that he has suffered immediately after the accident. The mental trauma of having to remain single, and answering the curious questions posed by the people around throughout life, for not getting married, are some of the things not easy to cope with. The trauma is going to be perennial and unabated. Such being the position, the duty is cast upon the Tribunals and Courts to award just compensation to ensure that the unbearable mental trauma is mitigated to the extent possible and the claimant can live with some dignity and find some solace in the monetary compensation awarded. 

The Court observed that the compensation payable under the non-pecuniary heads is not dependent on the social status, educational qualification or income of the claimant. It affects the poor and the rich alike. The rich may have some means of their own to mitigate the pain. Unfortunately for the poor, they need to depend on the compensation to be awarded to trace the silver line around the dark cloud cast by the
permanent disability.

The Court observed that the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is a benevolent legislation and the duty is cast upon the Tribunal to award just and fair compensation to the victim of a Motor Vehicle Accident and thus taking into consideration the inflation and constantly depreciating purchasing power of the rupee, the court deemed deem it appropriate to enhance the compensation.

The Court held “…the judgment and award dated 04.08.2016 passed in MVC No.49/2012 on the file of the Principal Senior Civil Judge and AMACT, Ranebennur is modified and compensation of Rs.17, 68,000.00 is awarded along with interest at the rate of 6%…”

[Basavaraj v. Umesh, M.F.A. No.103473 of 2017, decided on 11-01-2022]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearances:

For appellant: Adv. Hanumanthareddy Sahukar

For respondent: Adv. Suresh S Gundi

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Mohan Lal, JJ., directed the Union government to implement mandatory Vehicle Location Tracking Devices and Panic Button for all public service vehicles in the tune of Rule 125-H of Motor Vehicles Rules. The Bench remarked,

“It goes without saying that the provisions of Section 136A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the Rule 125-H have to be complied with in their letter and spirit. The exemption granted by the Government was limited in a period of time and has since expired.”

Factual Background

The issue in the instant appeal was one pertaining to implementation of the statutory provision incorporated in the Motor Vehicles Rules by way of insertion of 125-H, which makes it mandatory inter alia for all public service vehicles to have Vehicle Location Tracking Devices and Panic Button. The amendment was incorporated in the year 2016 and the same was to come into force with effect from 01-04-2018. However, by virtue of notification dated 25-10-2018, the Government in exercise of powers conferred under sub-Section (3) of Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and in supersession of the notification of the Government of India dated 18-04-2018 exempted up to 01-01-2019 all public service vehicles from the provisions of clause (k) of sub-Section 1 of Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The Government in the UT of J&K after the period of exemption was over, issued a circular towards implementation of the rules 125-H. However, as certain organizations involved in the transport business agitated the matter, pursuant to which a decision was taken to grant exemption in issuing the fitness certificates to commercial vehicles without GPS/VTS and Panic Button, till a Committee in this behalf submitted its recommendation/report for consideration by the Government. Noticeably,  the Committee so constituted had not given any report for or against the installation of the aforementioned devices, which were stated to be installed mandatorily in view of the provisions of 125-H.

Contention of the Appellant

The petitioner-appellant, who was an authorized dealer for a company, M/s Rosmerta, which was in the business of providing Vehicle Location Tracking Device and the Panic Button etc. filed a petition claiming that it had been duly empanelled by the Transport Department and that the decision to defer the installation of the requisite tracking devices was causing prejudice to its business interest.

Findings of the Single Bench

The writ Court opined that the petitioner-appellant had only been an agent for one of the firms shortlisted for supply of the requisite equipment and no specific orders as such had been placed by any of the firms shortlisted (enlisted) for the purpose, as the Government had only shortlisted the firms as the product manufactured by them was compatible with the entire system, which was put in place for tracking the movements of commercial vehicles. It was, therefore, held that the petitioner could neither raise the claim of promissory estoppel or legitimate expectation against the State, as the State had not promised anything to the petitioner.

The writ Court, therefore, declined to interfere in the petition on the issue of locus standi of the petitioner. However, while disposing of the petition, the writ Court directed the Transport Commissioner to ensure that the issue, which was before the Committee is taken to its logical conclusion by resolving the difficulties, so that the mandate of law is implemented.

Opinion and Analysis

Considering the stand of the UT, that it was already in the process of setting up of Control Centre, wherefrom all the vehicles can be monitored and the data received and secured, the Bench reminded that the official respondents were still under the statutory obligation to ensure that the needful is done without any undue delay. As the Single Judge had already directed the respondents to ensure that the issue is taken to its logical conclusion by resolving the difficulties, so that the mandate of law is implemented, the Bench opined that there was conflict in the direction that had been issued by the Single Judge as the ultimate object of the petitioner-appellant was to highlight the issue of non-implementation of the provisions of Section 136A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the Rule 125- H and the various circulars issued by the Central Government in that regard.

Conclusion

In the light of the above, the Bench opined that the impugned judgment did not suffer from any illegality and deserved no interference. The appeal was declared to be without merit and was accordingly dismissed. [Rallidae Tech. Private Ltd. v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine J&K 978 , 01-12-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: Shivani Jalali, Advocate

For Union of India: Adarsh Bhagat, GA

Case Briefs

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of S. Abdul Nazeer* and Krishna Murari, JJ., held that neither the percentage of deduction for personal expenses be governed by a rigid rule or formula of universal application nor does it depends upon the basis of relationship of the claimant with the deceased.

Passing a landmark decision, the Bench granted compensation to mother-in-law of the deceased considering her to be of the dependents of the deceased. The Bench remarked,

“It is not uncommon in Indian Society for the mother-in-law to live with her daughter and son-in-law during her old age and be dependent upon her son-in-law for her maintenance.”

Through the impugned judgment, the High Court of Kerala had scaled down the amount of compensation payable to the appellants and thereby modified the award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

Factual Matrix

The appellants had filed the claim petition before the Tribunal seeking compensation on account of the death of one N. Venugopalan Nair in a motor vehicle accident. Noticing that the deceased had four dependants, the Tribunal awarded a total sum of Rs.73,18,971 towards loss of dependency making the total sum Rs.74,50,971 towards compensation with interest at 7.5 per cent per annum.

In appeal the High Court held that the appellant 4, i. e. mother-in-law of the deceased was not a legal representative of the deceased. Similarly, without denying the fact that the deceased was a meritorious person who possessed the qualification of M.Sc. M.Phil and was availing the monthly salary of Rs.83,831, the High Court took the monthly income of the deceased as Rs.40,000/for the purpose of calculation of loss of dependency opining that the deceased was aged 52 years at the time of the accident, hence he would not have earned the same monthly income after his retirement.

Accordingly, the High Court awarded compensation of Rs.23,65,728 towards loss of dependency for preretiral period and a sum of Rs.22,40,000 towards loss of dependency for postretiral period. In total, a sum of Rs.48,39,728 was awarded as compensation by the High Court.

Observation and Analysis

Whether the High Court was justified in precluding the mother-in-law of the deceased as his legal representative?

The MV Act does not define the term ‘legal representative’. Generally, ‘legal representative’ means a person who in law represents the estate of the deceased person and includes any person or persons in whom legal right to receive compensatory benefit vests. A ‘legal representative’ may also include any person who intermeddles with the estate of the deceased; such person does not necessarily have to be a legal heir. Hence, the Bench observed,

“In our view, the term ‘legal representative’ should be given a wider interpretation for the purpose of Chapter XII of MV Act and it should not be confined only to mean the spouse, parents and children of the deceased.”

Opining that the As MV Act is a benevolent legislation, therefore, it calls for a liberal and wider interpretation to serve the real purpose underlying the enactment and fulfil its legislative intent, the Bench held that in order to maintain a claim petition, it is sufficient for the claimant to establish his loss of dependency.

Reliance was placed on Gujarat SRTC v. Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai, (1987) 3 SCC 234, by the Bench, wherein it had been held that, “We should remember that in an Indian family brothers, sisters and brothers’ children and sometimes foster children live together and they are dependent upon the breadwinner of the family and if the breadwinner is killed on account of a motor vehicle accident, there is no justification to deny them compensation relying upon the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855.”

Hence, considering that the mother-in-law of the deceased was staying with the deceased and his family members since a long time and was dependent on him for her shelter and maintenance, the Bench held that she might not be a legal heir of the deceased, but she certainly suffered on account of his death. Therefore, the Bench declared that she was a “legal representative” under Section 166 of the MV Act and was entitled to maintain a claim petition.

Whether the High Court was justified in applying a split multiplier?

The deceased was aged 52 years at the time of the accident and was working as an Assistant Professor on a monthly salary of Rs.83,831. Considering that the deceased was a Selection Grade Lecturer in Mathematics and was a subject expert, the Bench stated that evidence on record also shows that there is acute shortage of lecturers in Mathematics for appointment in colleges and retired Mathematics Professors are  appointed in so many colleges.

It is common knowledge that the teachers, especially Mathematics teachers, are employed even after their retirement in coaching centers. They may also hold private tuition classes. This would increase their income manifold after retirement.”

In the above backdrop, the Bench rejected the findings of High Court that the deceased’s income would necessarily reduce after his retirement, the Bench held that at the time of calculation of the income, the Court has to consider the actual income of the deceased and addition should be made to take into account future prospects. Accordingly, it was held that the High Court was not justified in applying split multiplier in the instant case by bifurcating the deceased’s income as pre- retirement and post-retirement.

What is the amount of compensation that should be awarded to the appellants?

The deceased was aged 52 years at the time of his death and had a permanent job. The annual income of the deceased was Rs.10,00,572, which after income tax deduction came to Rs.8,87,148.

Relying on the decision in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the Bench added additional 15% of his actual salary towards future prospectus, which made the actual salary of the deceased as Rs.1,33,072.

Since the deceased was 52 years at the time of his death, the applicable multiplier was ‘11’.  Similarly, considering that he had four dependants, following compensation was granted to the dependants: (i) Towards Loss of dependency Rs.84,16,815 ( ii) Loss of Estate Rs.16,500 iii) Funeral Expenses Rs.16,500 (iv) Spousal Consortium Rs.44,000 ( v) Parental Consortium Rs.88,000. Total Rs.85,81,815 was granted as compensation along with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum.

[N. Jayasree v. Cholamandalam Ms General Insurance Company Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 967, decided on 25-10-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together


Appearance by:

For the Appellants: Adv. Seshatalpa Sai Bandaru

For the Respondents: Adv.  Chander Shekhar Ashri


*Judgment by: Justice S. Abdul Nazeer               

Jharkhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Tukeshwari Devi v. Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Limited, 2021 SCC OnLine Jhar 705, decided on 25-08-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


 Appearances

For the Appellants: Mr Arvind Kumar Lall

For the Respondents: Mr Ashutosh Anand and Mr Satish Kumar

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: C.S. Dias, J., held that a married daughter and parents of the deceased woman are legal representative under the MV Act and hence, are entitled to claim compensation as a dependant of the deceased. The Bench remarked,

“Even if dependency is a relevant criterion to claim compensation for loss of dependency, it does not mean financial dependency is the ‘ark of the covenant’. Dependency includes gratuitous service dependency, physical dependency, emotional dependency, psychological dependency, and so on and so forth, which can never be equated in terms of money.”

Factual Matrix

One Sreedevi was mowed down to death by a goods vehicle when she was on her way to work, leaving her two daughters and their maternal grandparents in destitute. The dependents of the deceased, i.e., her two daughters and septuagenarian parents had approached the Tribunal under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 claiming compensation from the insured and the insurer of the vehicle. The deceased was a 49 years old widow, who was an anganwadi worker earning a monthly honorarium of Rs.18,000 and was the only breadwinner of her family.

The appellant contended that the accident occurred due to the negligence of the deceased and the respondents were not her legal representatives and dependants. The Tribunal allowed the claim petition, by holding that the respondents were the legal representatives and dependants of the deceased, and permitted the respondents to realise an amount of Rs.17,32,680 with interest and costs from the appellant.

Contention

The appellant contended that the Tribunal had erroneously held that the married daughter and parents of the deceased were dependent on her and it was only the unmarried daughter of who was a dependent in true sense.

Disputing the arguments of the appellant, the respondents contended that after the deceased lost her husband, her septuagenarian parents started living with her and her two daughters. The deceased was the sole breadwinner of the family and had been maintaining all the respondents, which proved that the respondents were dependent on her.  The respondents argued that for the sole reason that the respondent 1 was recently married, her entitlement to compensation for loss of dependency could not be denied.

Findings of the Court

The Supreme Court in Gujarat SSRTC v. Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai, (1987) 3 SCC 234, had held that, “we should remember that in an Indian family brothers, sisters and brothers’ children and sometimes foster children live together and they are dependent upon the bread-winner of the family and if the bread-winner is killed on account of a motor vehicle accident, there is no justification to deny them compensation relying upon the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 which as we have already held has been substantially modified by the provisions contained in the Act in relation to cases arising out of motor vehicles accidents”

  • Should a dependent be a legal representative of the deceased to claim compensation under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988?

Although, the term ‘legal representative’ is not defined under the MV Act,  the Government of Kerala by SRO No.1286/1989, promulgated the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, Rule 2 (k) of which defines the expression ‘legal representative, which reads thus:

“(k) Legal representative” means a person who in law is entitled to inherit the estate of the deceased if he had left any estate at the time of his death and also includes any legal heir of the deceased and the executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased;”

Opining that the Parliament had consciously used the expressions ‘legal representative’ in Section 166 and ‘legal heirs’ in the Section 163 A and had refrained from using the expression ‘dependent’, despite the recommendations of the Law Commission, the Bench stated that dependency is only a criteria for a legal representative to claim compensation for loss of dependency under Section 166 of the Act, 1988, and is not the ‘be all end all’ criteria to claim compensation under the other pecuniary, non-pecuniary and conventional heads of compensation. The Bench added,

“However, in a claim petition filed under Section 166 of the Act, 1988, the dependent has to be a legal representative of the deceased falling within Rule 2 (k) of the Kerala Rules, 1989; otherwise the expression ‘legal representative’ will be rendered otiose.”

  • Are parents and married daughters entitled to claim compensation under MV Act as dependents of the deceased?

After Sreedevi became a widow, her septuagenarian parents started living with her and her daughters, therefore, observing that there was no dispute that the respondents were the legal representatives of the deceased falling within Rule 2 (k) of the Kerala Rules, 1989, the Bench expressed,

“It would be preposterous to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that a 25 year old daughter would be no longer dependent on her 49 year old mother because she was given in marriage. The bond between a mother and a daughter is eternal.”

Reliance was placed by the Court on National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Birender, (2020) 11 SCC 356, wherein the Supreme Court had held that, “the major married son who is also earning and not fully dependant on the deceased would be still covered by the expression “legal representative” of the deceased.”

Verdict

In the light of the above, the Bench upheld the decision of the Tribunal that the married daughter was a dependent of Sreedevi, and she was also entitled to compensation for loss of dependency.

Similarly, observing that the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, casts a statutory duty to maintain a senior citizen, who is unable to maintain himself, the Bench opined that even if Sreedevi had neglected to maintain her parents, they were legally entitled to an order of maintenance under the above statute. Therefore, the petition was dismissed and the impugned award was upheld. [United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Shalumol, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 3209, decided on 25-08-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant ahs reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Appellants: Adv. Deepa George

For the Respondents: Adv. Mathews K.Philip and Adv. Manasy. T.

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

Chhattisgarh High Court
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]

Punjab and Haryana High Court
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]

Punjab and Haryana High Court
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]

Foreign LegislationLegislation 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]