Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: H.T. Narendra Prasad, J. while allowing the appeal in part and condoning the delay ordered that the claimant was not entitled to the interest for the delayed period of 358 days.

This Miscellaneous First Appeal was filed under Section 173(1) of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 seeking enhancement of compensation as the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal granted the compensation of Rs 80, 340 with interest of 6% interest and fastened liability on the owner of the vehicle.

The claimants were on a two-wheeler motorcycle, in one moment a tempo driven in a rash and negligent manner coming from opposite side dashed against the motorcycle. Due to this, the claimant suffered grievous injuries.

Counsel for the appellant, Harish S. Maigur, referred a case of Rani v. National Insurance Company Limited, (2018) 8 SCC 492 in which was held that the insurance company has to pay award amount to the owner of the vehicle. After then, they can recover the same from the owner. The Counsel submitted in the light of this judgment that the Tribunal did not pay heed to this particular observation of the Supreme Court.

Counsel for Respondent 2-Insurance Company, G.N. Raichur, submitted that the permit of the Respondent 1 was not valid on the date of the accident. Hence, the Tribunal rightly passed the liability on the owner of the vehicle.

The Court agreed with the submissions of the parties but cited the aforesaid Judgment in which it was also held that even though the offending vehicle did not possess a valid permit to operate in the State concerned, the Insurance Company has to satisfy the award first. Thereafter, it can recover the same from the offending vehicle.

In view of the above, the Court modified the judgment and award of the Tribunal and directed the Insurance Company to pay the compensation with interest instead of the owner. Once, that is paid it can recover that amount from the owner of the vehicle. [Manjunath v. Mrityunjaya, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 2098, decided on 16-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Lisa Gill, J. dismissed the appeal filed by insurance company challenging the amount of compensation granted by the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (‘MACT’).

In the present case, one Dalip Singh and Aslam (deceased), met with a motor vehicle accident which led to their fatal death. The MACT had awarded compensation to the families of both the deceased. Aggrieved thereby, the insurance company filed the present appeal stating that the said case did not fall under a motor vehicle accident and thus prayed for reducing the amount of compensation. Appeal was also filed by the claimants praying to increase the amount of compensation awarded.

In the appeal filed by the insurance company, the appellant contended that there was no evidence of a motor vehicle in the FIR, therefore, the respondents could not claim compensation for a motor accident. Also, the age of the deceased was wrongly concluded hence the amount of compensation must be reduced. Whereas in the appeal by the claimants, they contended for an increase in the compensation amount awarded by the Tribunal. However, they accepted the fact that the age of the deceased was wrongly concluded.

The Court after referring to all the facts, and hearing the witness with placed reliance on the judgment in Mangla Ram v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., (2018) 5 SCC 656 where it was opined that claimants in proceedings under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 have to prove their case on the touchstone of preponderance of probabilities and not beyond reasonable doubt.

It was held that the claimants had successfully proved the involvement of a vehicle and hence the judgment of the MACT was upheld. However, after analyzing the facts and the on consideration of a change in the age of the deceased, the Court reduced the amount of compensation.[IFFCO Tokio General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Asha Devi, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 1403, decided on 22-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: S. Kumar, J. dismissed the appeal filed by the insurance company on the grounds that the parties were liable severally as well as jointly. Although the company had the right to recover such compensation paid from the other party involved in the accident for which insurance was being claimed.

A miscellaneous appeal was filed under Section 173 of Motor Vehicle Act by the appellant against the Judgment and Award passed by the 1st Additional District Judge-cum-Motor Accident Claim Tribunal, Saran at Chapra in Claim Case No. 22 of 2002, by which the learned Claims Tribunal directed the appellant to pay a sum of Rs 3,50,000 to the claimant with interest @ 6 % per annum from the date of claim case till its realization.

The claimant was the husband of one Parwati Devi who died in a motor accident while travelling on a Commander Jeep which collided with another Commander Jeep on 19-09-2001 at about 10:00 PM The deceased was seriously injured and while she was being taken to hospital she succumbed to the injuries. An FIR was instituted under Sections 279, 338 and 304-A of the Penal Code against the drivers of both the vehicles and after investigation the police found the case to be true against drivers of both vehicles.

The appellant had appeared and had filed their written statement in which they denied the claim of claimants. The tribunal, after having examined the material brought on as evidence, held that the deceased died due to rash and negligent driving by the drivers of both vehicles and there was composite negligence on part of both the drivers. The Tribunal had further held that it was a case of composite negligence and the claimant was entitled to claim the compensation amount from either the owner or the insurer of the vehicle and had directed the appellant who was the insurer, to pay compensation.

High Court did not find any error or infirmity in the order passed by the tribunal and as such present appeal was dismissed as a liability to pay the compensation was joint and as well as several. However, since there was a specific finding of the tribunal that there was composite negligence on part of drivers of both the vehicles as such the appellant was entitled to recover 50% of the compensation amount paid to the claimant from the owner /insurer of the other offending vehicle.

In view of the above noted facts, the instant appeal was dismissed with the directions that the insurance company had to pay the balance claim amount with interest @ 6% from the date of presentation of claim till its realization within one month from the receipt of a copy of order passed by the court with a right of recovery of 50% of the compensation amount so paid from the owner /insurer of the other offending vehicle.[New India Assurance Co. Ltd v. Kanchan Bhagat, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1737, decided on 02-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Sandeep Mehta, J. dismissed an appeal from the Insurance company seeking exoneration of a lower court order.

In the present case, two appeals arose challenging the lower court judgment-cum-award. The parties have challenged the amount awarded by the trial court, primarily disputing over the salary amount earned by the deceased driver. Due to contradictions in the statements of the claimants, the insurance company and the employer of the deceased, the trial court had considered the income being Rs 2000 per month and accordingly had calculated the compensation amount under Section 163A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The claimants being one of the appellants filed for enhancement of the compensation amount awarded and the Insurance Company, being the other appellants was seeking exoneration of the award.

The counsel representing the insurance company, D.K. Gaur, claimed exoneration on two grounds, that the deceased driver was not having a valid driving license to drive a light motor vehicle and he was driving in a rash and negligent manner.

The Court upon perusal of facts, circumstances, and records dismissed the appeal of the claimants stating the award passed by the trial court is not on the lower end and is absolutely justified. The Court also dismissed the contentions of the insurance company stating that the controversy relating to the deceased not having the valid license was decided as no longer res Integra by Mukund Dewangan v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. (2017) 14 SCC 663 and stated that in United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Sunil Kumar, (2014) 1 SCC 680, it was decided that regarding negligence of the owner it is “to be decided by the structured formula and the adjudication thereunder is required to be made without requirement of any proof of negligence of the driver/owner of the vehicle involved in the accident”. Thus, the Court decided both the appeals are to be dismissed and the award passed by the trial court was justified.[Maniram v. Jenudeen, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 2809, decided on 09-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: H.T. Narendra Prasad, J. dismissed the appeal filed by an Insurance Company against the order passed by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT).

In the instant case, Jyothi and Nagaraj were traveling on a motorcycle and a lorry came in a rash and negligent manner and dashed against the motorcycle. As a result, Jyothi fell on the road and the lorry ran over her and she died while shifting her to the hospital. Hence, the parents of the deceased filed the claim petition before the Tribunal. The Tribunal granted compensation of Rs 6,96,000 with interest at 6 percent per annum. Being aggrieved by the same, the Insurance Company filed the present appeal.

The learned counsel for the petitioner, Lingaraj H S submitted that the Tribunal had erred in taking the multiplier based on the age of the deceased instead of based on the age of the mother. Further, the Tribunal was unjustified in adding 50 percent of the income of the deceased towards loss of future prospects while calculating the “loss of dependency”. Further, the compensation of Rs 25,000 each awarded to the claimants in the category of “loss of love and affection” was on the higher side. Therefore, the counsel for the petitioner prayed for allowing the appeal by reducing the compensation.

The learned counsel for the claimants, Nataraj Ballal relied on the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of National Insurance Co. Ltd v. Pranay Sethi, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1270, in which it was held that in case the deceased was having a permanent job and was below the age of 40 years, an addition of 50 percent of the established income should be made. Further, as per the said decision, while calculating the “loss of dependency”, the age of the deceased had to be taken into consideration. Hence, the counsel for the claimants submitted that there was no error in the finding of the Tribunal. Therefore, he prayed for dismissal of the appeal.

The Court relied on the decision of Supreme Court in the case of Pranay Sethi, and held that multiplier had to be applied based on the age of the deceased and not based on the age of the mother of the deceased. Moreover, the Court also relied on the case of Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd v. Nanu Ram, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1546 in which it was held that the claimants were entitled to compensation under the head “loss of love and affection”. Therefore, the Insurance Company has erred in taking the multiplier based on the age of deceased instead of based on the age of the mother and that the Tribunal was unjustified in adding 50 percent of the income of the deceased towards loss of future prospects while calculating the “loss of dependency”. Hence, the appeal could not be accepted and was unsustainable.

The appeal was dismissed accordingly.[Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Rathna, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 566, decided on 29-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Vivek Agarwal, J. while hearing two miscellaneous appeals analogously, refused to exonerate the Insurance Company and modified the impugned award of the claimant by an enhancement of Rs 70,378/-.

A miscellaneous appeal was filed by New India Insurance Company Limited challenging the award dated 04-02-2015 on two grounds, namely that the driver of the offending vehicle was not having licence to drive a commercial vehicle, namely ‘Vikram’ bearing No. MP-07-R-1602 and therefore, Insurance Company should have been exonerated of its liability and secondly, the accident took place when the claimant Faiziya Khan was crossing the road and therefore, aspect of contributory negligence should have been taken into consideration. While, the appellant-Faiziya Khan, had filed an appeal to enhance the award passed in order to compensate her for her injuries.

The learned counsel for the insurance company, Mr Shrinivas Gajendragadkar, put forth a two-fold argument that firstly, the driver of the offending vehicle did not have a license to drive a commercial vehicle; and secondly, that the claimant was negligent in crossing the road. The counsel further relied upon Halki Bai v. Managing Director, Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, 2004(3) T.A.C. 821(M.P.), to support his contention that since claimant was crossing the road negligently, therefore, it will be a case of contributory negligence. The claimant, Faiziya Khan, on the other hand, maintained that the award passed in her favor was inadequate as compared to her injuries and pains and needed to be enhanced.

The Court dismissed the appeal by the insurance company observing that the Halki Bai v. Managing Director, Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, 2004 (3) T.A.C. 821(M.P.), was not applicable here as in the present case it has been mentioned in a report that the accident took place due to fault in the steering of auto. In view thereof, it was held that there was no contributory negligence on the part of the claimant.

The Court also cited Mukund Dewangan v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., (2017) 14 SCC 663 in which the Court had held that if a driver is holding the license to drive a light motor vehicle, he can drive a transport vehicle of such class without any endorsement. By relying on the aforementioned judgment, the Court refused to exonerate the Insurance Company on the lack of endorsement of the driver.

Ruling on the claimant’s appeal, the Court modified the impugned award by enhancement of Rs 70,378 in favor of the claimant by increasing the compensation for livelihood, transport and future treatment.[New India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Mohd. Ajiz, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 818, decided on 08-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of S. Kumar, J. dismissed an appeal filed by the insurance company against the judgment and award passed by Motor Vehicle Accident Claim Tribunal, Bihar.

The son of claimant died on the spot when a vehicle dashed against him. As a result, he filed a complaint against the driver (Opposite Party 2) under Sections 279 and 304-A of the Penal Code, 1860. The offending vehicle was insured with the New India Assurance Company Ltd. (Opposite Party 3) and the claimant made claim for payment of compensation amount Rs 6 lakhs. The District Judge-cum-Motor Vehicle Tribunal granted compensation of Rs 3,65,000 to the claimant. Aggrieved by the quantum of compensation granted, the New India Assurance Company Ltd. filed an appeal against said judgment and award.

The Court dismissed the appeal placing reliance on the judgment of Apex Court in Reshma Kumari v. Madan Mohan, (2013) 9 SCC 65, and held, “the claimants are entitled for compensation of the amount as granted by the Tribunal and not inclined to interfere with the quantum of compensation amount granted by the Tribunal.” It also directed the insurance company to pay the amount of compensation to the claimant, with an interest at 6 per cent from the date of filing of the claim application till its realization within two months, from the date of receipt of the order passed by the Court. [New India Assurance Company Ltd. v. Amiri Khatoon, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 630, Order dated 06-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This appeal was filed before a Single Judge Bench of Rohit Arya, J., under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 against the impugned order passed by Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (Shajapur).

Facts of the case were that deceased met with an accident caused by the rash and negligent driving of respondent thereby causing their death. The respondent’s vehicle was insured with Insurance Company (Respondent 3). The claimant brought before Court the salary earned by deceased at the time of his death i.e. Rs 3,500. The claimant suffered not only the loss of love and affection of their family member but also financial constraints. The claimants were aggrieved by the meager compensation awarded by the Tribunal and prayed for its enhancement. The issue before the court was whether the compensation awarded by Tribunal of Rs 2,41,000 was justified.

Insurance company supported the award of compensation passed by Tribunal to be just, appropriate and proper with no requirement of enhancement. The High Court was of the view that impugned award was not assessed properly, being on the lower side it needed to be enhanced taking into consideration the age, dependency of the deceased and his future prospects. Court found it appropriate to deduct 1/3 instead of 1/2 towards personal expenses of the deceased. On viewing that Tribunal did not award compensation under the head ‘future prospects’, compensation was granted under the above head. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and award of compensation was enhanced to Rs 2,44,000. [Samrat v. Manish,2018 SCC OnLine MP 833, order dated 16-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: In its recent order, the Court ruled that the insurance company is bound to pay compensation for the accident caused, even if the same occurred abroad. The Bench of Rajbir Sehrawat, J.  set aside the earlier order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Kurukshetra which had absolved the insurance company from its liability and had instead ordered the owners of the bus to pay a compensation of Rs 4, 34,500, in a case where the bus in question carrying 54 pilgrims met with an accident in Nepal.

Justice Sehrawat in his judgement stated, “….the insurance policy is attached to the ‘vehicle’ in question and not to geographical expanse of the area of operation of the vehicle in question…”. He further supplemented the same by saying, “…Motor Vehicles Act extends only to ‘whole of India’ as per  Section 1, so it does not cover the area outside India. However, this rational also does not exempt the Insurance Company from liability arising from the usage of the vehicle outside the geographical area of the Union of India. This section also implies that the Act would be applicable to all the citizens and subjects of India qua all the Motor Vehicular aspects in India. It does not exclude the liability of one citizen or entity of India qua the other citizen of India even if the same is incurred outside the geographical area of Union of India…” [Anil Kumar v. Roop Kumar Sharma, FAO No. 152 of 2017, decided on 13.11.2017]