RAMKHILADI Vs. UNITED INDIA INSURANCE COMPANY
LAWS(SC)-2020-1-8
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on January 07,2020

Ramkhiladi Appellant
VERSUS
UNITED INDIA INSURANCE COMPANY Respondents





Cited Judgements :-

ORIENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY LTD VS. KAMTA PRASAD SAHU [LAWS(CHH)-2021-5-14] [REFERRED TO]
AMIR SAI VS. ANITA SHIVHARE [LAWS(CHH)-2020-7-43] [REFERRED TO]
MANOJKUMAR PUNJABHAI PATEL VS. VARIYA USMANBHAI IBRAHIMBHAI [LAWS(GJH)-2022-4-617] [REFERRED TO]
VITHAL VS. PARASHURAM [LAWS(KAR)-2021-2-83] [REFERRED TO]
NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO LTD VS. SEVANTA [LAWS(KAR)-2020-6-579] [REFERRED TO]
UNITED INDIA INSURANCE COMPANY LTD VS. RAJINI [LAWS(MAD)-2020-9-717] [REFERRED TO]
ORIENTAL INSURANCE CO LTD VS. SHOBHA P. [LAWS(KAR)-2021-6-39] [REFERRED TO]
RENUKA VS. RAJAPPA ILIGER [LAWS(KAR)-2020-6-666] [REFERRED TO]
NATIONAL INSURANCE CO. LTD. VS. RANI [LAWS(MAD)-2020-3-56] [REFERRED TO]
ORIENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, KUMBAKONAM, VS. NIRMALA [LAWS(MAD)-2020-10-32] [REFERRED TO]
SUNITA GUPTA VS. GURUSHARAN [LAWS(CHH)-2020-9-69] [REFERRED TO]
DEEPAK KUMAR MANIKPURI VS. B.N. SHRI NIVASH [LAWS(CHH)-2020-11-91] [REFERRED TO]
IFFCO TOKIO GENERAL INSURANCE CO. LTD. VS. PARVATHI [LAWS(MAD)-2020-8-228] [REFERRED TO]
NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD VS. PUNI MAO [LAWS(MANIP)-2022-7-1] [REFERRED TO]
DIVISIONAL MANAGER VS. A.C.JAGADEESANN [LAWS(MAD)-2022-3-36] [REFERRED TO]
ORIENTAL INSURANCE CO. LTD. VS. ARICHANDRAN [LAWS(MAD)-2021-3-376] [REFERRED TO]
BRANCH MANAGER, UNITED INDIA INSURANCE COMPANY LTD VS. DHANALAKSHMI [LAWS(MAD)-2020-8-3] [REFERRED TO]
NATIONAL INSURANCE CO. LTD VS. SHANTHI [LAWS(MAD)-2021-1-449] [REFERRED TO]
JOSE VS. ANTO [LAWS(KER)-2020-2-316] [REFERRED TO]
ROYAL SUNDARAM ALLIANCE INSURANCE CO LTD VS. MANICKAM [LAWS(MAD)-2020-8-375] [REFERRED TO]
ORIENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY LTD VS. MUNNI BAI W/O SUKHRAM NAIK [LAWS(CHH)-2021-1-150] [REFERRED TO]
K. INDUMATHI VS. M. PERIYASAMY [LAWS(MAD)-2020-10-368] [REFERRED TO]
UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO. LTD. VS. PUSHPABEN [LAWS(GJH)-2021-3-397] [REFERRED TO]
SONALBEN BHANABHAI TADVI VS. MADHUBEN BHAGUBHAI TADVI [LAWS(GJH)-2022-2-94] [REFERRED TO]
KAMALAWWA VS. RAMAPPA M BYAKUD [LAWS(KAR)-2022-6-1184] [REFERRED TO]
NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD VS. SHIKHA GOYAL [LAWS(MPH)-2021-8-88] [REFERRED TO]
UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO LTD VS. LEGAL HEIRS OF DECD KASUBHAI DESABHAI VALA [LAWS(GJH)-2022-5-203] [REFERRED TO]
DURANIRAM VS. RATHINAM [LAWS(MAD)-2020-7-398] [REFERRED TO]
REGIONAL MANAGER, RELIANCE GENERAL INSURANCE CO LTD VS. PARIMALA [LAWS(MAD)-2021-6-73] [REFERRED TO]
ORIENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED VS. SUBRAMANIAM [LAWS(MAD)-2021-3-212] [REFERRED TO]
NATIONAL INSURANCE CO. LTD VS. J. GNANAVEL [LAWS(MAD)-2021-3-523] [REFERRED TO]
NEW INDIA ASSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED VS. RAFI [LAWS(MAD)-2021-4-17] [REFERRED TO]
IFFCO-TOKIO GENERAL INS. CO. LTD. VS. KAMIN BAI [LAWS(CHH)-2020-7-61] [REFERRED TO]
NEW INDIA ASSURANCE COMPANY LTD. VS. RAMA VISHRAM GAVAS [LAWS(BOM)-2022-1-3] [REFERRED TO]
M/S.UNITED INDIA INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED VS. M. BAKIAVATHI [LAWS(MAD)-2021-3-198] [REFERRED TO]
DIVISIONAL MANAGER NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD.,HUBLI VS. TUSHAR S/O UTTAM NAGAVEKAR [LAWS(KAR)-2020-10-249] [REFERRED TO]
UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO. LTD VS. VEENA [LAWS(KAR)-2020-11-61] [REFERRED TO]
ORIENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED VS. THAYAMMA [LAWS(KAR)-2020-11-44] [REFERRED TO]
NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD VS. A.T.RAPHEAL [LAWS(KER)-2020-11-673] [REFERRED TO]
UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO. LTD. VS. B. SUDHA [LAWS(MAD)-2020-3-274] [REFERRED TO]
NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO LTD VS. GURUMOORTHY [LAWS(MAD)-2020-12-608] [REFERRED TO]
UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO LTD VS. THIRUGNANA SAMBANTHAM [LAWS(MAD)-2020-11-97] [REFERRED TO]
UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO. LTD. VS. C.KUMAR [LAWS(MAD)-2020-12-332] [REFERRED TO]
VASUKI VS. SANTHI [LAWS(SC)-2021-10-131] [REFERRED TO]
AYYAPPAN PILLAI VS. THOMAS.M [LAWS(KER)-2020-3-643] [REFERRED TO]
THE BRANCH MANAGER M/S. NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO LTD. VS. THIRU. RAJARAM [LAWS(MAD)-2020-12-582] [REFERRED TO]
NATIONAL INSURANCE CO LTD VS. HUSNA ARA BEGUM [LAWS(GAU)-2020-3-127] [REFERRED TO]
ANNAPURNA W/O ANAND RAMESH VS. UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO. LTD. [LAWS(KAR)-2020-9-477] [REFERRED TO]
NEW INDIA ASSURANCE COMPANY LTD. VS. A. HEMAVATHI [LAWS(MAD)-2021-3-353] [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

M.R.SHAH, J. - (1.)Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned Judgment and Order dated 10.05.2018 passed by the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan at Jaipur in SBCMA No. 2614 of 2009, by which the High Court has allowed the said appeal preferred by the respondentinsurance company by quashing and setting aside the Judgment and Award passed by the learned Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and consequently has dismissed the claim petition preferred by the original claimants, the original claimants have preferred the present appeal.
(2.)The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as under:
2.1 That in a vehicular accident which occurred on 02.10.2006, one Chotelal alias Shivram died. The deceased was travelling on motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 02 SA 7811. At this stage, it is required to be noted that, even as per the claimants, the accident occurred on account of rash and negligent driving of the driver of another motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 29 2M 9223. That the appellants herein filed a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Laxmangarh (Alwar), Rajasthan (hereinafter referred to as the learned Tribunal) under Section 163A of the Motor Vehicles Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act). At this stage, it is required to be noted that the claim petition was preferred only against the owner of the motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 02 SA 7811 and its insurance company. Neither the driver nor the owner or the insurance company of the vehicle bearing registration No. RJ 29 2M 9223 were joined as opponents in the claim petition. Therefore, as such, no claim petition was filed against the driver, owner and the insurance company of the vehicle involved in the accident i.e. motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 29 2M 9223. That an objection was raised by the respondentinsurance companyinsurer of motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 02 SA 7811 that as according to the claimants and even so stated in the FIR, the driver of the motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 29 2M 9223 was rash and negligent and the claimants have not filed the claim petition against the owner of the said vehicle, the claim petition is required to be dismissed against the insurance company of the motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 02 SA 7811. The learned Tribunal framed the following issues:

1. Whether accident was caused on 02.10.2006 by driver Chhotelal alias Shivram driving Motorcycle RJ 02 SA 7811 vehicle in question in rash and negligent manner?

2. Whether the driver was driving the said vehicle being in the employment of vehicle owner opposite party No. 1 Bhagwan Sahay in his interest or with his permission/knowledge?

3. Consequent to occurring death of Chhotelal alias Shivram (driver) in the alleged accident, how much valid amount and in what manner, the applicants are entitled to get and from which opposite parties?

4. Whether the objections raised in the preliminary/specific statements are significant, if yes then its effect?

5. Relief.

2.2 On appreciation of evidence, the learned Tribunal answered Issue Nos. 1 and 2 in favour of the claimants and held that the death of the deceased Chotelal alias Shivram had occurred from the motorcycle involved in the accident and the said motorcycle was insured with the respondentinsurance company, the insurance company is liable to pay the compensation under Section 163A of the Act. Consequently, by the Judgment and Award dated 24.02.2009, the learned Tribunal partly allowed the said claim petition and awarded a total sum of Rs.3,67,000/- as compensation along with the interest @ 6% per annum from the date of filing of the claim petition till the date of the actual payment

2.3 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the Judgment and Award passed by the learned Tribunal holding the insurance company of the motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 02 SA 7811 liable to pay the compensation, the respondentinsurance company insurer of motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 02 SA 7811 preferred an appeal before the High Court. That, by the impugned Judgment and Order, the High Court has allowed the said appeal and has quashed and set aside the Judgment and Award passed by the learned Tribunal and consequently has dismissed the claim petition on the ground that even as per the informant Vikram Singh, who lodged the FIR, the accident had occurred on account of rash and negligent driving by the driver of motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 29 2M 9223, however, the claimants have not filed the claim petition against the owner of the said vehicle and in fact, the claim petition should have been filed by the claimants against the owner of vehicle bearing No. RJ 29 2M 9223 to seek compensation.

2.4 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned Judgment and Order passed by the High Court, the original claimants have preferred the present appeal.

(3.)Shri Abhishek Gupta, learned advocate appearing on behalf of the appellantsoriginal claimants has vehemently submitted that the High Court has materially erred in dismissing the claim petition solely on the ground that the claimants have not filed the claim petition against the owner of the motorcycle bearing registration No. RJ 29 2M 9223.
3.1 It is submitted by the learned advocate appearing on behalf of the appellantsoriginal claimants that, as such, the High Court has not properly appreciated the fact that the claim petition preferred by the original claimants was under Section 163A of the Act and, therefore, when the claim petition was preferred under Section 163A of the Act, there is no need for the claimants to plead or establish that the death in respect of which the claim petition has been made was due to any wrongful act or neglect or default of owner of vehicle concerned.

3.2 It is further submitted by the learned advocate appearing on behalf of the appellantsoriginal claimants that the claim petition filed by the original claimants was based on the principle of nofault liability. It is submitted that the claimants could have elected to file the claim petition either under Section 166 read with Section 140 of the Act against the owner/insurer of offending vehicle i.e. RJ 29 2M 9223 on the basis of the fault liability or under Section 163A either against the owner/insurer of the vehicle being driven by the deceased at the time of accident i.e. RJ 02 SA 7811 or against the owner/insurer of offending vehicle i.e. RJ 29 2M 9223 on the basis of nofault liability. It is submitted by the learned advocate appearing on behalf of the appellantsoriginal claimants that, as such, the deceased was not the owner of the vehicle bearing registration No. RJ 02 SA 7811 and in fact and as observed by the learned Tribunal, he was in employment of owner of the vehicle No. RJ 02 SA 7811 and therefore a third party. It is submitted that having elected to prefer the claim under Section 163A of the Act on the principle of nofault liability against the owner/insurer of the vehicle being driver by the deceased at the time of the accident i.e. RJ 02 SA 7811, the claim was perfectly just and maintainable and the learned Tribunal made no error in allowing the same. In support of the above, the learned advocate appearing on behalf of the original claimants has heavily relied upon the decision of this Court in the case of Reshma Kumari v. Madan Mohan (2013) 9 SCC 65.

3.3 Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the original claimants has further submitted that Section 163A of the Act has to be interpreted in keeping with the intention of the Legislature and the social perspective it seeks to achieve. It is a provision which is beneficial in nature and it has been enacted as a measure of social security. It is submitted that Section 163A of the Act commences with a "nonobstante" clause. Liability to pay the compensation is on "owner of the motor vehicle" or "the authorized insurer". It is submitted that the word "owner" has been defined under Section 2(30) to mean "a person in whose name a motor vehicle stands registered, and where such person is a minor, the guardian of such minor, and in relation to a motor vehicle which is the subject of a hirepurchase, agreement or an agreement of lease or an agreement of hypothecation, the person in possession of the vehicle under that agreement." It is submitted that having regard to the said definition of "owner", this Court in Naveen Kumar v. Vijay Kumar (2018) 3 SCC 1 has held the registered owner of the vehicle as per the registering authority liable in respect of the offending vehicle despite sale/purchase of vehicle by him. It is submitted that, in paragraph 6, it is held that the person in whose name the motor vehicle stands registered is the owner of the vehicle for the purpose of the Act.

3.4 It is further submitted by the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellantsoriginal claimants that for claiming the compensation under Section 163A of the Act, the claimants are only required to prove that the death or permanent disablement is as a result of the accident arising out of the use of motor vehicle and it will cover those who are themselves driving a vehicle, the passengers and also pedestrians. It is submitted that in an application under Section 163A of the Act, fault of the owner of the vehicle or vehicles concerned or of any other person need not be established.

3.5 It is further submitted by the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellantsoriginal claimants that, therefore, as the present claim premised on the nofault liability under Section 163A of the Act by the legal heirs of the deceased, the same was maintainable against the owner and insurer of the motor vehicle which was being driven by him, more particularly, when the deceased was not the owner of the vehicle and that respondent No. 2 was the registered owner of the concerned vehicle and, therefore, the insurance company cannot be absolved from its liability to pay the compensation as awarded by the learned Tribunal.

3.6 Making the above submissions, it is prayed to allow the present appeal and quash and set aside the impugned Judgment and Order passed by the High Court and to restore the Judgment and Award passed by the learned Tribunal holding the owner of the vehicle bearing registration No. RJ 02 SA 7811 and the insurer of the said vehicle to pay the compensation.

3.7 It is further submitted by the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellantsoriginal claimants that, as such, the amount of compensation awarded by the learned Tribunal i.e. Rs.3,67,000/- should be enhanced to Rs.5,00,000/- with interest as awarded by the learned Tribunal in light of the fact that the 2 nd Schedule to the Motor Vehicle Act has been amended with effect from 22.05.2018 and a fixed compensation of Rs.5,00,000/- has been specified in the case of death. It is submitted that this Court has enhanced the compensation even in those cases wherein no appeal for enhancement has been preferred against the order of the Tribunal. In support thereof, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the original claimants has relied upon the decision of this Court in the case of Jitender Trivedi v. Kasam Daud (2015) 4 SCC 237.

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