Devi & Ors. Vs. Bagada Ram & ANR.  INSC 645 (18 August 2010)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1508 OF
2004 Indra Devi & Ors. Appellants Versus Bagada Ram & Anr. Respondents
This is the claimant's appeal from a motor accident claim case.
On March 31, 1999, one Ramniwas while going on a motorcycle dashed
against the rear side of a truck that was headed in the same direction as the
motorcycle. Ramniwas died in the accident. His heirs and legal
the appellants before this Court, moved the MACT, Sojat,
Jaitaran, District Pali in MACT Case No.59 of 1999 against the
the truck and its insurer, the New India Assurance Company Ltd.
compensation in terms of section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
of the proceedings, the appellants claimed no fault compensation under section
140 of the Motor
Vehicles Act which was granted to them by 2 the
Tribunal and the compensation amount was duly paid by the insurance company. In
the main proceeding, however, the Tribunal came to find and hold that insofar as
the accident is concerned there was no lapse on the part of the driver of the
truck nor was it due to any mechanical fault in the truck.
accident was caused due to the careless and negligent driving of the deceased
himself. On that finding, the Tribunal naturally rejected the claim of
compensation on the principle of fault. But it did not stop there and went on
to hold that the insurance company was entitled to the refund of the amount of
no fault compensation along with interest @ 9% p.a. In the operative portion of
the judgment, the tribunal ordered as follows:
to the above analysis, this claim is dismissed. An amount of Rs.50,000/- has
been given to the applicants by The New India Assurance Co. Ltd. as an interim
relief and The India Assurance Co. Ltd. will be entitled to have it back with
9% interest p.a."
The claimants took the matter to the High Court in appeal (Civil
Miscellaneous Appeal No.323 of 2002). The High Court dismissed the appeal by
judgment and order dated August 20, 2002. The High Court agreed with the
Tribunal's finding that the deceased alone was responsible for the accident and
hence, the claimants were not entitled to any compensation. Unfortunately, the
High Court did not address the issue of no fault compensation and overlooked
the direction of the Tribunal for refund of the amount of interim compensation
alongwith interest @ 9% p.a.
The claimants are now before this Court aggrieved by the direction
to refund the amount of interim compensation to the insurance company alongwith
The impugned direction is clearly erroneous and unsustainable in
Tribunal has completely failed to realize the true nature and character of the
compensation in terms of section 140 of the Act. The marginal heading to
section 140 describes it as based `on the principle of no fault'. As the
expression `no fault' suggests the compensation under section 140 is regardless
of any wrongful act, neglect or default of the person in respect of whose death
the claim is made.
We have examined the nature of the `no fault compensation' payable
under section 140 of the Act in Eshwarappa @ Maheshwarappa and Anr. vs. C.S.
Gurushanthappa and Anr. (Civil Appeal No.7049 of 2002), the judgment in which
is pronounced today. We, therefore, do not wish to elaborate the point further.
Suffice to say that in view of our judgment in Civil Appeal No.7049 of 2002,
the Tribunal was patently in error, in directing for the refund of the amount
of `no fault compensation' already paid to the claimants, to the insurance
company. The High Court was equally in error in missing out this grave mistake
in the judgment and order passed by the Tribunal and not setting it right.
The present appeal must, therefore, be allowed. The order of the
Tribunal insofar as it permits the insurance company (respondent no.2) to 4
recover the amount of interim compensation alongwith the interest from the
claimants/appellants is set aside.
In the result the appeal is allowed but with no order as to costs.
.....................................J (AFTAB ALAM)
.......................................J (R.M. LODHA)
August 18, 2010.