'Gratuitous Passenger' Is Not Defined In MV Act, It Means One Who Has Taken Lift- Gauhati HC Upholds Compensation Awarded By MACT
The Gauhati High Court held that the claimant was not a gratuitous passenger and upheld the order of compensation passed by the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (MACT).
The Bench of Justice Parthiv Jyoti Saikia observed that “The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 does not define the expression ‘gratuitous passenger’. However, Section 147(1)(b)(ii) of the Act expressly exempts the case of a ‘gratuitous passenger’ in a goods vehicle in a public place. But gratuitous passenger would mean one who has taken lift.”
Advocate S. Dutta appeared for the petitioner and Advocate C. Chowdhury appeared for the respondent.
In this case, the appeal was preferred under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 against the judgment and award passed by the MACT wherein compensation od Rs. 3,31,000 was awarded to the claimant.
The claimant was travelling in a truck, when the driver of the truck lost control and knocked one stationary vehicle and one electric pole. Due to this, the claimant sustained serious injuries on his left upper limb. Ultimately, the left upper limb of the claimant had to be amputated and therefore, claim case for compensation was filed before the MACT.
The Counsel for the appellant contended that the claimant was a gratuitous passenger and therefore he was not entitled to get any compensation.
The Court was apprised of the fact that the claimant was the second driver of the vehicle and that he was sitting inside the driver’s cabin.
The Court observed that there was no evidence in the case that the claimant was a gratuitous passenger and the insurance policy did not stipulate the nature of employment of the employees covered by the policy.
Therefore the Court held that the claimant was not a gratuitous passenger and dismissed the appeal.
Cause Title- New India Insurance Co. Ltd. V. Karuna Barman & Ors.