Supreme Court Seeks Suggestions From Transport Ministry To Curb Filing Of Fake Motor Accident Claims
A Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice M R Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna on Thursday made the Union Ministry of Transport a party to a case and directed it to suggest "remedial and preventive measures" to curb the menace of filing of false claims under the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and Workmen Compensation laws causing loss of crores of rupees to insurance companies.
The Court, which has been passing a slew of orders related to the probe into filing of hundreds of fake claim petitions by lawyers in Uttar Pradesh, said that after getting the suggestions from the Centre, it may issue "further directions to be applied pan India".
A Bench ordered the UP SIT to expedite the "enquiry/investigation with respect to complaints already received from various insurance companies" about such cases and also took note of the fact that the Disciplinary Committees of Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh has issued notices to 27 errant advocates allegedly involved in filing of fake cases.
"We appreciate the steps taken by the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh, taken on or after September 22, which shall ensure to maintain the purity of the legal profession in the State of Uttar Pradesh. We also impress upon the Bar Council of India/Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh to conclude the disciplinary proceedings in accordance with law as early as possible," the Bench said in its order.
"We are of the opinion that before any further directions are issued, we may have the response from the Ministry of Transport, Government of India to have their suggestions for remedial and preventive measures for curbing the menace of filing of false/fraud claim petitions. We, accordingly, direct the registry to implead the Ministry of Transport, Government of India as a party-respondent and issue notice," it said.
The Bench asked Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj to appear on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and to assist and come out with suggestions on how to curb the menace of filing false claim petitions and listed the matter for hearing on January 25.
The Bench, in its order, noted the information shared by the SIT on the progress made in the probe.
"It is stated in the status report that total 1,376 cases of suspicious claims from various districts in the state of UP have been received so far by the SIT... That out of total 1,376 cases of suspicious claims received by the SIT, after completing enquiry of 247 cases of suspicious claims till date, total 198 accused persons have been prima facie found guilty of cognisable offence and accordingly, total 92 criminal cases have been registered in various districts...," it said.
So far, investigation of 36 criminal cases have been completed and charge sheets against accused persons have been filed in 32 criminal cases and final reports in four criminal cases have been forwarded to the criminal court concerned, the Bench said referring to the SIT report.
"We impress upon the investigating officer of the SIT to expedite the enquiry/ investigation with respect to complaints already received from various insurance companies with respect to suspicious fake claims. We also call upon the SIT to file a further affidavit pointing out in how many cases the charge sheets have been filed...," it said.
Earlier, on December 8, the Apex Court rapped the UP Bar Council for shielding advocates in a matter of fake claim petitions of "thousands of crores" involving lawyers even as the BCI said it has suspended 28 lawyers in the state for such cases.
It is very unfortunate that in such a serious matter, where the allegations are of filing of fake claim petitions involving advocates, the Bar Council of UP is not giving instructions to them for making submissions, the Court had said.
It had also directed a Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted in compliance of the order dated October 7, 2015 passed by the Allahabad High Court, to submit a report with regard to the probe in a sealed cover before it on or before November 15.
The Bench had noted that the ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Limited forwarded cases of suspicious claims related to various insurance companies forwarded by the district judge Raebareli, cases referred to the SIT by various courts and the high court, cases of suspicious claims of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and Workmen Compensation Act referred to by various insurance companies.
The Court had said that SIT was constituted pursuant to the order passed by the Allahabad HC for conducting enquiry and investigation of the cases related to causing a loss in crores of rupees to the insurance companies from 2015 and despite the same, the investigation has not been completed till date.
With PTI inputs