Ongbi Sangeeta @ Sangi Devi & Anr Vs. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. & Ors
 Insc 1096 (23
Arijit Pasayat & P. Sathasivam
APPEAL NOS. 4946-4947 OF 2007 (Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.3871-3872 of 2005)
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
Challenge in these appeals is to the order passed by a Division Bench of the Guwahati
High Court, Imphal Bench, allowing the appeal filed by respondent No.1
(hereinafter referred to as 'the insurer').
Briefly stated, the facts are that on 19.12.1994 at about 7.30 a.m., near Lungthulien
village about 7 km. southwest from Parbung Police Station on Tipaimukh Road, a Tata
Truck bearing registration No.MN-01/3578 while proceeding towards Mizorm met
with an accident. Two claim cases were filed before the Motor Accident Claims
Tribunal, Manipur (in short 'Tribunal'), under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (in
short the 'Act').
Tribunal by common judgment and award dated 31.12.2002, awarded compensation of
Rs.2,99,464/- in MAC Case No.61/95 and also an award of Rs.1,62,000/- in MAC
Insurance Company assailed the said common judgment and award only on the
ground that the vehicle involved in the accident is a Tata Truck which is a
goods vehicle and, therefore, the Insurance Company is not liable to pay
question of liability of the insurer with regard to the goods carrier has been
dealt with by this Court in Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. v. Devireddy Konda
Reddy and Ors. (AIR 2003 SC 1009). In the said case the provisions of Section
95(1) of Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Old Act') as
well as Section 147 (1) of the Act were dealt with.
High Court by the impugned judgment, accepted the plea and held that the insurer
was not liable to pay the compensation.
support of the appeal, learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the
High Court ought to have directed the insurer to pay and recover the amount
from the insured. Learned counsel for the insurer submitted that no such
direction could have been given on the basis of the position in law stated by
Third party risks in the background of vehicles which are subject-matter of
insurance are dealt with in Chapter VIII of the Old Act and Chapter XI of the
Act. Proviso to Section 147 needs to be juxtaposed with Section 95 of the Old
Act. Proviso to Section 147 of the Act reads as follows:
that a policy shall not be required
cover liability in respect of the death arising out of and in the course of his
employment, of the employee of a person insured by the policy or in respect of
bodily injury sustained by such an employee arising out of and in the course of
his employment other than a liability arising under the Workmen's Compensation
Act, 1923 (8 of 1923) in respect of the death of or bodily injury to, any such
in driving the vehicle or
it is a public service vehicle engaged as conductor of the vehicle or in
examining tickets on the vehicles, or
it is a goods carriage, being carried in the vehicle, or
cover any contractual liability.
is of significance that proviso appended to Section 95 of the Old Act contained
in clause (ii) does not find place in the new Act. The same reads as follow:
where the vehicle is a vehicle in which passengers are carried for hire or
reward or by reason of or in pursuance of a contract of employment, to cover
liability in respect of the death of or bodily injury to persons being carried
in or upon or entering or mounting or alighting from the vehicle at the time of
the occurrence of the event out of which a claim arises."
difference in the language of "goods vehicle" as appearing in the Old
Act and "goods carriage" in the Act is of significance. A bare
reading of the provisions makes it clear that the legislative intent was to
prohibit goods vehicle from carrying any passenger. This is clear from the
expression "in addition to passengers" as contained in definition of "goods
vehicle" in the Old Act. The position becomes further clear because the
expression used is "goods carriage" is solely for the "carriage
of goods". Carrying of passengers in a goods carriage is not contemplated
in the Act. There is no provision similar to clause (ii) of the proviso
appended to Section 95 of the Old Act prescribing requirement of insurance
policy. Even Section 147 of the Act mandates compulsory coverage against death
of or bodily injury to any passenger of "public service vehicle". The
proviso makes it further clear that compulsory coverage in respect of drivers
and conductors of public service vehicle and employees carried in goods vehicle
would be limited to liability under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923. There
is no reference to any passenger in "goods carriage".
The inevitable conclusion, therefore, is that provisions of the Act do not
enjoin any statutory liability on the owner of a vehicle to get his vehicle
insured for any passenger traveling in a goods carriage and the insurer would
have no liability therefor.
The above position was highlighted in Devireddy Konda Reddy and Ors.'s case
(supra) and National Insurance Company Ltd. V. Ajit Kumar and Ors. (AIR 2003 SC
The High Court was, therefore, justified in holding that the insurer was not
But the further question that ought to have been dealt with by the High Court
was the person who had the liability to pay the amount awarded as compensation.
Such a finding has not been recorded by the High Court. While issuing notice on
4.3.2005, it was indicated that the matter requires to be remitted to the High
Court to fix the responsibility of the person who is to satisfy the Award made
by the Tribunal even though, in law, the High Court was justified in holding that
the Insurance Company had no liability. Accordingly, we remit the matter to the
High Court for the limited purpose of fixing the responsibility of the person
who is to satisfy the Award made by the Tribunal.
The appeals are disposed of accordingly.