IMACHAL ROAD TRANSPORT Vs. ARVIND SINGH MANN
HIGH COURT OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
Imachal Road Transport
Arvind Singh Mann
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DEVINDER GUPTA, J. -
(1.) A common question of law, which arises for determination in these Letters Patent Appeals, is as to whether the payment made by the State Government under the Scheme known as 'Himachal Pradesh Scheme for the payment of ex gratia grant to a passenger' (hereinafter referred to as 'the Scheme'), previously known as 'Himachal Pradesh Passenger Insurance Scheme' framed by the State of Himachal Pradesh under Section 3 A of the Himachal Pradesh Passengers and Goods Taxation Act, 1955 (Act No. 15 of 1955) (hereinafter referred to as 'the Passengers and Goods Taxation Act') and the amount paid by the appellant, namely, the Himachal Road Transport Corporation, by way of interim relief immediately after an accident is liable to be deducted from out of the amount of compensation awarded by the Tribunal to the claimants under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (as replaced by Motor Vehicles Act, 1988) (hereinafter to be called as 'the Act').
(2.) THE State legislature enacted Passengers and Goods Taxation Act, 1955, with a view to provide for levying of tax on passengers and goods carried by road in certain motor vehicles. Section 3 A was added to the principal Act by the Himachal Pradesh Passengers and Goods Taxation (Amendment) Act, 1977 (Act No. 1 of 1978) which came into force on and with effect from February 3, 1978 and provides for levying of surcharge on the tax payable by every passenger carried by a stage/ contract carriage for the purpose of insurance of passengers under the Scheme which was required to be prepared and notified by the State Government. Section 3 A of the Act reads as under:
3 A. Levy of surcharge. Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub section (1) of Section 3 of the Act, from and after the commencement of this Section, there shall further be levied and paid to the State Government a surcharge on the tax payable by every passenger carried by a stage/ contract carriage for each journey at a rate of 20 per cent subject to a minimum of 5 paise in any one case, the amount of surcharge being calculated to the nearest multiple of 5 paise by ignoring 2 paise or less and counting more than 2 paise as 5 paise, for the purpose of insurance of a passenger under the scheme to be prepared and notified by the State Government in the official Gazette.
The State Government in pursuance to the aforementioned provisions contained in Section 3 A of the Passengers and Goods Taxation Act, framed the Scheme and notified it in the official Gazette on November 18, 1977. Initially, the Scheme was known as Himachal Pradesh Passengers Insurance Scheme but subsequently by another notification dated November 19, 1977, its nomenclature was changed and now it is known as 'Scheme for the payment of ex gratia grant to a passenger'. The Scheme makes a provision that the amount received under Section 3 A of the Passengers and Goods Taxation Act shall be credited to a fund which is to be operated upon by the Commissioner Transport of State of Himachal Pradesh or by such other officer of the State Government as may be authorised by the State Government in this behalf. The Scheme has authorised the State Government to make rules for the administration of fund. Para 2 of the Scheme provides for the risk covered and para 4 thereof provides for the Schedule of payment to be made under the Scheme, which are reproduced as under:
2. Risk covered. The Government shall cover the risk to the ex gratia payment as laid down in the Schedule for death or disablement of the bona fide passenger travelling in stage carriage or contract carriage registered and/or licensed in the State of Himachal Pradesh to carry passengers for hire or reward and whose originating or destination point is in the State of Himachal Pradesh and who have paid the fare, passenger tax and insurance surcharge and on whose behalf the said payments have been made and who are covered under the Scheme for the victims in the accidents and arising out of and directly or solely from the accidents of the stage carriage or contract carriage as hereinabove mentioned are being plied to carry passengers for hire or reward. All bona fide passengers travelling in the stage carriage or contract carriage as hereinabove mentioned and whose destination or starting point falls within the State of Himachal Pradesh shall be entitled to the ex gratia payment for death or disablement caused in an accident within the territory of Himachal Pradesh and as laid down in the Schedule. XXX XXX XXX 4. Schedule for the amounts of ex gratia payment. (a) In case of death, the amount of ex gratia payment shall be Rs. 10,000/ in respect of one passenger above the age of 12 years. The Schedule for the payment of insurance amount has been amended from time to time. Initially, in case of death the amount was Rs. 10,000/ in respect of one passenger above the age of 12 years and presently it is Rs. 35,000/ .
(3.) BESIDES the aforementioned Scheme, which was framed by the State Government, the Board of Management of the appellant Corporation separately took a decision for grant of interim reliefs to the victims of accident immediately after any accident. In case of death, the amount of interim relief payable to the heirs was initially Rs. 1,000/ and now it is Rs. 3,000/ , whereas in case of injury such amount payable to an injured was Rs. 200/ which is now Rs. 500/ . According to the appellant, these payments of interim relief and of the amount under the provisions of the Scheme should be taken into consideration and deducted from out of the amount of compensation payable to a claimant under the provisions of the Act.;
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