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United India Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs Sunil Kumar & Ors.

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Citations: United India Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs Sunil Kumar & Ors., 207 SCC OnLine SC 1443

Date of Judgement: 23 October 2019

Bench: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ranjan Gogoi, j, Adarsh Kumar & Navin Sinha

Court: Supreme Court of India

Case No: Civil Appeal No. 9694 of 2013

Case Type: Civil Appeal

Appellant’s: United India Insurance Co. Ltd.

Respondent’s:  Sunil Kumar & Ors.

Statutes Referred:

  • The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988; Sections 163A, 140,141,144, 166, 141,170

Cases Referred:

  • National Insurance Co. Ltd Vs Sinith & Ors. 23 November, (2012) 3 SCC 356
  • The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd Vs Hansrajbhai & V. Kodala & Ors, (2001)5 SCC 175
  • Deepal Girishbhai Soni and Ors Vs United India Co. Ltd ,3 (2004) 5 SCC 385
  • Insurance Company Ltd. Vs Shila Datta and others, [(2011) 10 SCC 509]

 Facts:

  • In this case respondent has filed a claim petition under Section 163A of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 for claiming compensation for the injury sustained by him in a road accident occurred on 20.11.2006.
  • The Tribunal passed an award for a sum of Rs. 3,50,000/- along with interest at the rate of 7% per annum after recording the evidence and after hearing the parties, vide its order dated 16.8.2011.
  • The Insurance Company was aggrieved by this and filed an appeal with the High Court, which dismissed the appeal on the basis of the Insurance Co. failure to comply with Section 170 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.
  • As a result, the appeal lies before the Supreme Court.

Issues Involved:

Whether the insurer has a right to raise a defence/plea of negligence in a claim proceeding under Section 163 A of The Motor Vehicles?

Contentions of Appellant:

The counsel for Appellant’s contented that:

  • Claim petition was filed under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, which was resisted by the Insurance Company. The Insurance Co. argued that the same is not maintainable since the injured himself was driving the vehicle and that no disability certificate was produced. Court noted that a claim for compensation under Section 140 cannot be defeated because of any of the fault grounds.

Contentions of Respondent:

The counsel for Respondent’s contented that:

  • To claim compensation for the injury sustained by him in a road accident. Learned counsel for the respondent contended that, in the light of the court decision in United India Insurance Co. Ltd Vs Shila Datta & Ors this case should be referred to a larger Bench, particularly in light of the points no.(iii) to (iv) referred to in the above-mentioned judgment, which are in conflict with this court’s decision in National Insurance Co. oh India Vs Shila Datta & Ors.
  • The impugned order, we noticed, is based on the principle established in Nicolletta Rohtagi’s case whose correctness is questioned in Shila Datta & Ors.

Judgment:

The court held that in a proceeding under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 it is not open for the insurer to raise any defence of negligence on the side of the victim and Section 163A (2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 makes this plain.

Hence, the owner or Insurance Company shall be liable to pay compensation.

Ratio Decidendi:

There is no necessity of any proof of negligence of the driver/owner of the vehicle(s) involved in an accident. Compensation given on the basis of structured formula is treated as a final award. There is no requirement for evidence of negligence in order for adjudication to be made.

Conclusion

In this instant case respondent prayed to claim compensation for injury caused to him which was no reasonable ground to claim as per the Section 163 A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1998 and thus, respondent cannot raise any defence of negligence on part of victim to counter a of compensation. Hence it was said by the Apex court that owner or insurer of the company shall be liable to pay compensation to Appellant’s.

Drafted By: Samanta Rao, CLS – Gitarattan International Business School

Edited by: Aashima Kakkar, Associate Editor, Law Insider

Published On: October 19, 2021 at 10:26 IST