Decided on January 09,2003

MARY Respondents


- (1.) The insurer has filed these appeals impugning the award whereby compensation has been directed to be paid to the injured persons in a motor accident. The injured persons were travelling in a goods vehicle. This is an admitted position. The accident occurred on 31.7.1991 i.e. after the enforcement of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and before the amendment effected to S.147 as per Act 54/94 to be effective from 14.11.1994. Therefore, the provisions in S.147 as it stood before the said amendment has to be considered in this case.
(2.) The Tribunal below found that the injured persons were covered by the policy, relying on the decision reported in United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Appukuttan ( 1995 (1) KLT 807 ) wherein this Court had held that the gratuitous passenger carried in the vehicle will be covered even if the policy was an Act only policy.
(3.) The insurance company has filed these appeals contending that the goods vehicles are not intended to carry passengers. Therefore, the Act only policy in respect of goods vehicle will cover only the employees of the insured alone. The injured did not have a case that they were the employees of the insured. As the goods vehicles are not intended to carry passengers, there arises no question of coverage of gratuitous passengers. The insurer also did have a case that they were engaged for loading and unloading of the cargo into the vehicle concerned and were never employed by the owner of the vehicle, the insured. The issue is covered by a recent decision of the Supreme Court in New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Asha Rani and Others ( 2003 (1) KLT 165 (SC), overruling the earlier decision reported in New India Assurance Co.v. Satpal Singh ( 2000 (1) KLT 95 SC) wherein it had been held that after the advent of the New Act, the Act policy was not required to exclude gratuitous passengers in a vehicle, no matter that the vehicle is of any type or class. When this dictum has been overruled in Asha Ranis case, necessarily, the impugned award cannot stand any more. It is further submitted that even if the claimants did have a case that they were the owner or the representatives of the owner of the vehicle, S.147 as it stood then was not sufficient enough to cover them as they are not within the categories of persons insured as per the policy in question namely, an Act policy. But they did not have a case that they were the owner of the goods or the representatives of the owner of the goods.;

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