The Kerala High Court in a claim petition preferred by the petitioner who sustained injuries in an accident has interpreted the meaning of the word 'Month' for ascertaining the limitation period of six months under the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019.

A Single Bench of Justice Amit Rawal stated –

" is not necessary to issue notice to the driver and owner of the vehicle as it would defray the cost of litigation. Act 32 of 2019 was introduced putting an embargo on entertainment of the application for compensation. Sub-section (35) of Section 3 of the General Clauses Act, 1987 applicable to the State of Kerala would mean a month reckoned according to the British calendar, the same reads as … "month" shall mean a month reckoned according to the British calendar."

Advocate R. Sreehari appeared on behalf of the petitioner while Advocate P.K. Manoj Kumar appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the petitioner was hit by a car driven by the respondent and insured by United India Insurance Co. Ltd. The claim petition was filed before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT), which was returned by holding it to be barred by limitation in view of the Government notification read with Section 53 whereby the amendment under the Motor Vehicles Act, 2019 came into effect with effect from April 1, 2022, and incorporated in sub-section (3) of Section 166.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the MACT ought not to have returned the petition on this ground and ought to have called the other side and framed the issues to adjudicate whether the claim petition is barred by law of limitation or not, for, the calculation of the period of six months must be from the date of the accident and not by counting each day in a month.

The Court after hearing the contentions of both parties said, "By taking the definition of a month as the period to be counted for the purpose of limitation, filing of the claim petition within a period of six months has to be calculated from the date of accident. If the said period is calculated from the date of accident 10th November is the last date of six months on which date the claim petition was instituted."

The Court further observed that MACT ought not to have returned the petition by calculating the limitation in the manner and mode as has been done.

The Court also stated, "At the best, could have framed the issue and put the parties to lead evidence on that or hear the argument by taking into consideration the provisions of the law. Since I have already undertaken this exercise, it would be a farcical exercise for this Court to direct the learned MACT to frame the issue and decide the same. Accordingly, the impugned order is set aside. The Superintendent of the District Court is directed to register the claim petition filed through e-filing No.C202200074, allocate to the competent court and proceed in accordance with law."

Accordingly, the Court set aside the order of the MACT.

Cause Title – Vimala Jose v. Aboobacker & Ors.

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