SHIV DAYAL J. -
(1.) IN a collision between the M.P. Speedways Bus No. M.P.G. 4307 and the Bhuta Bus Service Passenger Bus No. M.P.G 4615, Satyendra Nath Raha and Uma Shanker Shastri, both of whom were travelling in the former, were killed. The Speedways Bus was going from Bhind to Gwalior. The Bhuta Bus was running in the opposite direction. The accident occurred on 10 April 1962 at about 11 a. m. near village Bidkhadi on the Gwalior-Bhind road.
(2.) THE dependants of Raha (Smt. Manjusri Raha and two others) lodged before the Claims Tribunal a claim under section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act (hereinafter called the Act) for Rs. 3,00,000 against Smt. Manjula Devi Bhuta, the proprietor; Sushil Kumar, the driver; and Oriental Fire and General Assurance Co. Ltd., the insurer, of the Bhuta Bus and also against B. L. Gupta, the owner; Ram Swaroop, the driver; and the New India Insurance Co., the insurer, of the Speedways Bus. THE dependants of Shastri (Padmavati and others) likewise filed a claim for Rs. 1,20,000 against the aforesaid proprietors, drivers and insurers of the two buses. As both the claims arose from the same accident, they were tried together by Shri D. B. Pawdey, 1st Additional District Judge, Gwalior, as the Claims Tribunal constituted under section 110 of the Act.
In its award, the tribunal held (1) that the dependants of Raha were entitled to Rs. 60,000 as compensation from all the six non-applicants because it found that both the drivers were negligent; and (2) that the dependants of Shastri were entitled to Rs. 40,000 as compensation from the proprietor, driver and the insurer of the Bhuta Bus, but not against the proprietor, or insurer of the Speedways Bus.
Aggrieved by the award made by the Claims Tribunal on the application of the dependants of Raha, the proprietor and driver of the Bhuta Bus preferred this appeal (M.F.A. No. 219 of 1965), joining all other parties as respondents. The insurer of the Bhuta Bus (Oriental), likewise, filed Miscellaneous 1st Appeal No. 223 of 1965. So also the proprietor and the insurer of the Speedways Bus filed Miscellaneous 1st Appeal No. 203 of 1965 and 218 of 1965 respectively. Against the award made by the Tribunal on the application of the dependants of Shastri, the proprietor and driver of the Bhuta Bus and also the insurer (Oriental) filed Appeals Nos. 220 of 1965 and 222 of 1965 respectively. It may be mentioned just now that the dependants of Shastri did not file either an appeal against the proprietor, driver or insurer of the Speedways Bus, nor did they file any cross-objections, for enhancement of the amount of compensation. It is convenient to dispose of all these appeals by a common judgment.
(3.) SHRI Dube strenuously contended that the application under section 110-A of the Act, which was filed before the Tribunal by the dependants of Raha, was barred by time. The period of limitation prescribed under sub-section (3) of that section is 60 days from the date of the occurrence of the accident. The accident occurred on 10 April 1962. The application was made on 19 June 1962. On the 9th June and thereafter up to the 18th June, the civil Courts remained closed. They reopened on the 19th June after the summer vacation. The argument for the appellants is that since in the discharge of his functions as the Tribunal under the Motor Vehicles Act the Additional District Judge is not a Court, it is of no consequence that the Court of the Additional District Judge remained closed during the period from the 9th to the 18th June. Civil Courts were closed from 7 May to 16 June 1962 by virtue of a notification of the High Court under section 21 of the M. P. Civil Courts Act, 1958. The 17th June was a Sunday and the 18th June was a general holiday. The Claims Tribunal condoned the delay on the ground that the applicants' belief that they could present the petition on the reopening of the Court was a sufficient cause within the meaning of the proviso to section 110-A of the Act. In that context, the tribunal observed thus:-
"It is wrong to say that the Claims Tribunal functioned during the summer vacation. I, who preside over the Claims Tribunal, though on duty for some part of the vacation, actually did not take up any work on behalf of the Claims Tribunal, because the work before it was that of civil nature, and the same was closed during the period of vacation. The fact that the petitioner filed her claims personally on the first opening day of the civil work after the vacation coming from Calcutta, shows her bona fides and vigilence for her claim".
SHRI Dube's contention is that except the provisions specified in section 110-C of the Act, the Code of Civil Procedure is not applicable to these proceedings.
It is true that having regard to the provisions contained in section 110 (3) of the Act, which enumerates the qualifications for appointment as a member of the Claims Tribunal as also the scheme of the relevant provisions of the Act, there can be no doubt that the Additional District Judge acted as a persona designata and not as a civil Court. However, we are clearly of the view that where a proceeding is of a civil nature, as distinguished from a criminal proceeding, it will be taken that the tribunal does not function during the summer vacation and is closed, as in the case of a civil Court.;