The Kerala High Court observed that contributory negligence in motor accident compensation cases cannot be attributed solely relying on the scene mahazar.

The Bench set aside the finding of the MACT fixing contributory negligence on the part of the appellant at 50% after noting that the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) had relied on the scene mahazar wherein it was noted that the accident had occurred in the middle of the road and hence, there was contributory negligence (50%) on the part of the appellant and therefore reduced his compensation.

A Single Bench of Justice Shoba Annamma Eapen observed, “If the police charge attributes contributory negligence, the same can be relied on by the tribunal, but, here, in this case, there is only a scene mahazar available. In the absence of any other convincing substantial evidence, contributory negligence cannot be attributed relying solely on the scene mahazar. Hence, the finding of the tribunal without any supporting evidence, attributing contributory negligence at 50%, is found to be illegal and is liable to be set aside.

Advocate C.Harikumar represented the appellant, while Advocate V.O.Philomina appeared for the respondents.

The appellant challenged the decision of the MACT, after he had initially sought compensation for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. The MACT had reduced the compensation awarded by 50% due to the appellant’s contributory negligence and because he had an invalid driving licence.

The appellant argued that he had a valid driving licence which was valid for 20 years under Section 14(2)(b) of the Motor Vehicles Act (the Act). Moreover, he argued that the tribunal could not attribute contributory negligence solely relying on the scene mahazar.

The High Court referred to Section 14(2)(b) of the Act and observed that the appellant had a valid driving licence on the date of the accident. “Therefore, the finding of the tribunal that the claimant was not having a valid driving licence at the time of the accident is unsustainable,” the Court added.

The Bench referred to the decision in Jiju Kuruvila v. Kunjunjumma Mohan [2013 (9) SCC 166] where the Supreme Court had held that no interference can be drawn on the basis of scene mahazar for arriving at contributory negligence.

“Here, in this case, it is an admitted fact that the final report including B charge against the appellant was refused to be accepted by the tribunal and there was no charge against the appellant. Hence, merely relying on the scene mahazar, it may not be possible for the tribunal to arrive at a conclusion that there was contributory negligence on the part of the appellant,” the Court remarked.

Consequently, the Court held that the insurer was liable to deposit the remaining amount of compensation awarded by the tribunal to the appellant with an interest.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the appeal.

Cause Title: Raju K.J. v. Deepak.T.V. & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024:KER:37701)


Appellant: Advocates C.Harikumar and Renjith Rajappan

Respondents: Advocates V.O.Philomina, Viju Thomas, M.Meena John and Mikhiya Anna Viju

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