MAHA MAYA DEBBARMA Vs. HIMU CHANDRA DEY
HIGH COURT TRIPURA
Maha Maya Debbarma
Himu Chandra Dey
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Akil Kureshi,J. -
(1.) This appeal is filed by the original claimants to challenge an award dated 14.11.2018 passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, West Tripura, Agartala in T.S. (MAC) No.268 of 2016.
(2.) Brief facts are as under:
On 07.03.2016 one Suman Debbarma aged about 19 years, met with a fatal vehicular accident in which a bus insured by the respondent No.2 insurance company was involved. The deceased was unmarried. His parents thereupon filed a claim petition against the owner and insurer of the vehicle involved in the accident and claimed compensation of Rs.34,23,000/-. According to them, the accident occurred on account of rash and negligent driving of the bus. The claimants examined the mother of the deceased as PW-1 and one Swapan Das who claimed to be an eyewitness as PW-2. The Claims Tribunal dismissed the claim petition on the ground that the deceased himself was negligent in driving his motorcycle which led to the accident and, therefore, his parents cannot claim any compensation from the owner or the insurer of the bus. In the process, the Tribunal placed heavy reliance on a First Information Report filed by one Ratan Sarkar before the Teliamura Police Station on 07.03.2016 in which the informant had stated that the accident took place on account of the rash and negligent driving of the motorcycle by the deceased. According to the informant, he was going on a bicycle when the motorcyclist first hit him and thereafter his vehicle dashed with a bus. The Tribunal relied on the fact that upon completion of the investigation the police had concluded that the deceased was negligent in causing the accident. Noticing that the claim petition was based on fault liability the entire claim petition was dismissed.
(3.) Appearing for the appellants learned counsel Mr. Faruk Miah submitted that the Tribunal erred in placing reliance on the contents of the F.I.R. and police investigation and in the process discarded reliable evidence of eyewitness. He submitted that in motor accident cases the Courts do not insist on strict proof of negligence. He relied on a decision of learned Single Judge of this Court in case of Kalpana Majumder and ors. v. Sankar Debnath and anr. reported in (2017) 2 TLR 74 in which it was observed that in absence of examining the relevant witnesses, police report cannot be relied upon to discard the eyewitness accounts. Counsel also relied on a decision of Supreme Court in case of Parmeshwari v. Amir Chand and ors. reported in AIR 2011 SC 1504 in which it was observed as under:
'12. We are constrained to repeat our observation that the total approach of the High Court, unfortunately, was not sensitized enough to appreciate the plight of the victim. The other so-called reason in the High Court's order was that as the claim petition was filed after four months of the accident, the same is 'a device to grab money from the insurance company'. This finding in the absence of any material is certainly perverse. The High Court appears to be not cognizant of the principle that in a road accident claim, the strict principles of proof in a criminal case are not attracted. The following observations of this Court in Bimla Devi and others v. Himachal Road Transport Corporation and others [(2009) 13 SCC 530]: (AIR 2009 SC 2819), are very pertinent.
'In a situation of this nature, the Tribunal has rightly taken a holistic view of the matter. It was necessary to be borne in mind that strict proof of an accident caused by a particular bus in a particular manner may not be possible to be done by the claimants. The claimants were merely to establish their case on the touchstone of preponderance of probability. The standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt could not have been applied.'' ;
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