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Report No. 85

3.29. Judgment of Supreme Court-Difficulties enumerated in another judgment.-

It will be appropriate to quote from a judgment of the Supreme Court, where some of the difficulties experienced in the present system have been adverted to, at some length1:-

"14. The instant case brings into focus the difficulties experienced by dependants in obtaining relief before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. The victim in this case Bhagwan Das was run over by a motor vehicle on the night between 8th and 9th July, 1961 leaving behind him his wife Bishan Devi and four minor children. For eighteen long years they have been before courts asking for some compensation for the death of their bread-winner due to rash and negligent driving of a motor vehicle. One is tempted to remark that they would have been better off but for their hope of getting some relief in courts. They not only had to spend their time in courts but to borrow to fight for their rights. It is common knowledge that such helpless and desperate condition is exploited by unscrupulous persons who manage to get away with the bulk of the compensation money if and when the .claimants succeed in getting it.

15. The law as it stands requires that the claimant should prove that the driver of the vehicle was guilty of rash and negligent driving. The burden thus placed is very heavy and difficult to discharge by the claimant. The records of police investigation are not made available to the Tribunal. The officers who investigated the accident are seldom available to give evidence before the Claims Tribunal and assist in coming to a proper conclusion. The insurance company in quite a few cases, as in the present one, takes an unreasonable stand and raises all sorts of untenable pleas just to thwart relief to the dependants. In many of the claims it turns out to be beyond the capacity of the claimant to maintain his claim in a court of law.

16. Due to the inordinate delay in disposal of claim petitions before the Motor (Accidents) Claims Tribunal the badly needed relief to the claimants is not available for several years. Further time is taken in appeals. All along, the dependants will have to carry on without any relief. It has been time and again pointed out by courts that insistence of proof of rash and negligent driving causes considerable hardship on the claimants.

17. We may point out that repeated suggestions have been made by this Court and several High Courts expressing the desirability of bringing a social insurance which would provide for direct payment to the dependants of the victim. This Court in Minu B. Mehta v. Balkrishna Ramchandra Nayan, 1977 ACJ 119: AIR 1977 SC 1248 (1259), has referred to the decision of the Kerala High Court in Kesavan Nair v. State Insurance Officer, 1977 ACJ 219, where the High Court expressed thus:-

"Out of a sense of humanity and having due regard to the handicap of the innocent victim in establishing the negligence of the operator of the vehicle a blanket liability must be cast on the insurers."

The Madras High Court in M/s. Ruby Insurance Co. Ltd. v. V. Govindaraj, A.A.O. Nos. 607 of 1973 and 296 of 1974 decided on 13-12-1976 has suggested the necessity of having social insurance to provide cover for the claimants irrespective of proof of negligence to a limited extent, say, Rs. 250 to Rs. 300 a month."

1. Bishan Devi v. Sribaksh Singh, AIR 1979 SC 1862 (1866,1867) (November) Kailasam, J.).

Claims for Compensation under Chapter 8 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 Back

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