Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

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

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

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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

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

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

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

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

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

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

Amendments to existing lawsLegislation Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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

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

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