S. 167 of Motor Vehicles Act bars dual claim of compensation, both under Employees Compensation Act as well as MV Act

Karnataka High Court: While delivering the judgment in a Miscellaneous First Appeal under Section 173(1) of the MV Act, against the judgment passed by the Ist Additional District Judge, Mangaluru, a Single Judge Bench comprising of B. Manohar, J. held that reading Section 167 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 makes it very clear that option has been given to the claimants to seek compensation either under the Employees Compensation Act, 1923 or the MV Act. They cannot file a claim petition under the provisions of both the Acts.

Respondents herein were family members of the deceased who died in a road accident while he was proceeding on a motorcycle. They claimed compensation under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act. However, the records clearly disclosed that immediately after the death of the deceased, the respondents had filed a compensation petition under the Employees Compensation Act, and the compensation was awarded.

Learned counsel appearing for the appellant contended that the wife and children of the deceased had already filed a claim petition before the Commissioner of Employees Compensation. The Tribunal awarded the compensation. However, the claimants again filed one more set of claim petition seeking compensation under the MV Act. According to the learned counsel, there is a clear bar to that in light of Section 167 of the MV Act.

The learned Judge gave careful consideration to the arguments addressed by both the parties, and held that the claimants are not allowed to avail dual benefit under the above said two enactments. The Court also relied on the decision of the Apex Court in National Insurance Company v. Mastan, (2006) 2 SCC 641 which held that Section 167 contains a non-obstante clause providing for such an option notwithstanding anything contained in the 1923 Act. Accordingly the appeal was allowed and the judgment and award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Mangalore was set aside. [United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Lalitha Rathan, 2017 SCC OnLine Kar 1554, order dated 15.03.2017]

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