Allahabad High Court: In a matter referred by a Division Bench to a larger Bench for its opinion on the issue “Whether a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal constituted in UP under the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA), 1988, can permit examination-in-chief to be recorded on affidavit of witnesses and may further permit parties to cross-examine witnesses on the basis of such affidavits?”, the Bench comprising of Dilip B. Bhosale, CJ., Aditya Nath Mittal and Rajan Roy, JJ., were of the view that the Claims Tribunal being formed to deliver speedy justice, can follow such summary procedure as it thinks fit and shall have all the powers of a civil court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath.
In the present case, the respondents had filed a claim petition before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Lucknow, due to an accident in which one person of the respondents’ family died, consequently, the appellant was directed to pay compensation to the respondents, to which they appealed. Here, the respondents had adduced the examination-in-chief by way of affidavit which was claimed to be impermissible in law by the appellant.
The appellant placed heavy reliance upon the judgment of this Court in Kripal Singh v. Mst. Kalia, 1982 ACJ 458 and contended that the Tribunal has no authority, in law, to record evidence by means of affidavit and if such a procedure is adopted, the award rendered would be illegal. They further argued that the amendment brought to Code of Civil Procedure in 2002 which rendered the Civil Courts to record evidence on affidavits of witnesses, was after UP Motor Vehicles Rules (MVR), 1998, was enacted. While the respondents argued that Kripal Singh was decided in 1982 when neither MVA, 1988 nor UP MVR, 1998 existed nor the above amended provisions were in existence, so, the case has lost its binding nature.
The Bench were of the same opinion and relying on New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Richa Singh Katiyar, 2012 ACJ 1626 and Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Ram Ratan, 2013 (3) ALJ 600, it stated that examination-in-chief on affidavit is allowed at the discretion of the Tribunal, subject to any objection by the defendants, also, with reference to cross-examination and re-examination, the same are not permitted on affidavit and have to take place before the Tribunal. Moreover, in absence of any objection before the Tribunal regarding the examination-in-chief on affidavit, no appeal would be allowed in regards to its award before the High Court later on. [National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Pushpa Devi, First Appeal from Order No. 545 of 2011, decided on 27-10-2016]