NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD. Vs. TUKARAM PANDURANG KOLI
LAWS(MHCDRC)-2013-9-2
MAHARASHTRA STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
Decided on September 23,2013

NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD. Appellant
VERSUS
Tukaram Pandurang Koli Respondents




JUDGEMENT

R.C. Chavan, J. - (1.)THIS appeal is directed against the order dated 31.1.2004 passed in complaint No. 303/2001 by the District Forum, Satara directing the appellant/Insurance Company to pay a sum of Rs. 1,45,177 with interest @ 9% p.a. and a sum of Rs. 4,500 towards mental harassment as also Rs. 1,500 towards cost of complaint before the District Forum in respect of deficiency in service in failure to compensate the complainant in terms of policy of insurance taken by the complainant/respondent bearing No. 3115170200316. The vehicle owned by the complainant/respondent was insured with the appellant/Insurance Company. It met with an accident on 1.5.2000 because of rear tyre burst. The vehicle was admittedly being driven by Mr. N.S. Lokare, who was holding a driving licence valid for driving Light Motor Vehicle issued on 10.4.2000. The vehicle itself was classified as Medium Goods Vehicle with gross vehicle weight of 8800 kg. The appellant/Insurer resisted the claim by submitting that the vehicle was being driven by a person who was not authorized to drive the vehicle in question. Gross weight of vehicle found by the District Forum was 8136 kg. and the goods loaded in the vehicle weighed 5836 kg. The District Forum found that considering the weight of goods loaded in the vehicle, the driver had valid driving licence to drive the insured vehicle and, therefore, awarded compensation. Aggrieved thereby, appellant/Insurance Company is before this Commission.
(2.)WE have heard Mr. R.P. Bafna, Advocate for the appellant as well as Mr. A.V. Patwardhan, Advocate for the respondent/complainant.
Learned Counsel for the appellant drew our attention to the definition of Heavy Goods Vehicle', 'Light Motor Vehicle' and 'Medium Goods Vehicle' contained in Clauses 16,21 and 23 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Light Motor Vehicle has been defined in Clause 21 to mean a transport vehicle or omnibus, the gross vehicle weight either of which does not exceed 6000 kg. which is now stated to have been changed to 7500 kg. Learned Counsel submitted that as per Certificate of Registration of the vehicle in question, gross vehicle weight was shown as 8800 kg. Even according to District Forum at the relevant time, gross weight of the vehicle was 8136 kg. i.e. in excess of 7500 kg. and therefore, vehicle could not have been stated to be Light Motor Vehicle.

(3.)LEARNED Counsel drew our attention to the judgment of the National Commission in the matter of United India Insurance Company Ltd. v. Ved Prakash, III : (2010) CPJ 52 (NC), where the National Commission has considered a similar question and observed in Para 10 as under:
After having heard the learned Counsel for the parties and on a plain reading of provisions of Section 2(21) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, we are of the view that a driver who holds any LMV driving licence would be entitled to drive a light commercial/transport vehicle only if the gross laden weight and NOT unladen weight of the vehicle is below 7500 kgs. The surveyor has failed to correctly interpret the provision of Section 2(21) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. It has two distinct parts; the first part refers to transport vehicle or omnibus for which reference is to be made to their gross weight below 7500 kgs. while the second part relates to a motor car or tractor or road roller and it is only in these cases that unladen weight of less 7500 kgs. is applicable. In this case, the laden gross weight of the vehicle is 10050 kgs.; much higher than the prescribed upper limit of 7500 kgs. under Section 2(21) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and even the Registration Certificate states it to be a medium goods vehicle for which the respondent -complainant did not have a valid driving licence. It would be relevant here to point out that in a case involving an auto -rickshaw delivery van which was in the category of a goods transport vehicle, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of New India Assurance Company Limited v. Roshanben Rahemansha Fakir and Another, : (2008) 8 SCC 253, has held that the driver not holding appropriate licence i.e. for the correct kind/class of vehicle which caused the accident, the insurer cannot be held liable.

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