MV Act - Rule Of Evidence To Prove Charges In Criminal Trial Cannot Be Used For Determining Compensation - SC
The Supreme Court while enhancing the compensation in a motor accident case has held that rule of evidence to prove charges in a criminal trial cannot be used while deciding an application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
The two-judge Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Vikram Nath held, "We find that the rule of evidence to prove charges in a criminal trial cannot be used while deciding an application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 which is summary in nature. There is no reason to doubt the veracity of the statement of appellant No. 1 who suffered injuries in the accident. The application under the Act has to be decided on the basis of evidence led before it and not on the basis of evidence which should have been or could have been led in a criminal trial."
Counsel Atul Babasaheb Dakh appeared for the Appellant while Counsel Sakshi Mittal appeared for the Respondent before the Apex Court.
In this case, the legal heirs filed an appeal assailing the order of the Bombay High Court whereby the award passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal awarding Rs. 8,90,000 along with interest @7% p.a. was set aside.
As per the Appellants, the deceased met with a motor accident and both the deceased as well as Appellant No. 1 received serious injuries and later the deceased died. Appellant No. 1 lodged a complaint where an FIR was registered against unknown vehicle and unknown driver. The police started investigation and charge-sheeted the driver. On account of death of the deceased, an application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 for grant of compensation was filed. The owner of the vehicle denied the accident. The Tribunal however held that the accident occurred by the vehicle owned by the owner and awarded compensation.
The Insurance Company filed an appeal before the High Court where the Court did not accept the findings that the accident was caused by the car owned by the owner and the negligent driving on the part of the driver.
The Apex Court noted that the order of the High Court was unsustainable.
The Court also noted that the rule of evidence to prove charges in a criminal trial cannot be used while deciding an application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which is summary in nature.
The Bench also held that the entire approach of the High Court is not sustainable.
"If the daughters of the deceased have not been impleaded as claimants, it is immaterial as the amount of compensation payable by the tortfeasor will not get enhanced because of the daughters being party to the claim application. It is since the daughters are married, the mother has not impleaded, the daughters as the claimants. It is not really of any consequence as held by the High Court," the Bench observed.
The Court held that the Appellants were entitled to enhanced compensation, particularly regarding future prospects and other damages.
The Bench further placed reliance on United India Insurance Company Limited v. Satinder Kaur & Ors. and observed, "the compensation under the head on account of loss of love and affection is not permissible but compensation on account of spousal consortium for wife and for the parental consortium for children is admissible."
Therefore, the Court enhanced the amount of compensation and set aside the order of the High Court, and allowed the appeal.
Cause Title - Janabai WD/O Dinkarraro Ghorpade & Ors. v. M/s. ICICI Lombard Insurance Company Limited