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Allahabad High Court examines scope of power of MAC Tribunal to ‘correct’ itself

Ashok KM
26 Aug 2015 2:39 AM GMT
Allahabad High Court examines scope of power of MAC Tribunal to ‘correct’ itself
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The High court rejects plea of driver that the review he sought is only a correction of clerical mistake.

The Allahabad High Court today, upheld the order of a Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal which held that it has no power to review its award on merits. Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta dismissed the petition under Article 227 of the Constitution, filed by the driver, against whom an order was passed by the tribunal to pay compensation, claiming that the review sought by him was not a substantive review but for correction of a clerical error

In this case, the driver of the offending vehicle, was found not having a valid licence. The tribunal held that the driver is liable to pay compensation of Rs.8, 48,482/-. However, the driver did not prefer any appeal. Curiously, in another claim petition by yet another victim, relating to the same accident, caused by the same driver, it was found that he was having a valid license and in that petition, the tribunal fixed liability to pay compensation on the Insurance Company.  Realising this discrepancy, the driver filed a ‘review application’ and the tribunal rejected the application holding that ‘there is no clerical error in the award and there being no power with the Tribunal to review its award on merits’.

Thereafter, Petitioner approached the High Court challenging the rejection of his ‘review’, claiming that ‘Tribunal had, by inadvertence, ignored the stamp of renewal of the license and the same amounts to a clerical error and in relation to which the Tribunal had the power to make necessary corrections.” He submitted that the review soughtwas not a substantive review but for correction of a clerical error.

The High court held that the Tribunal can correct its own awards, only in the following categories of cases.

  1. If it is convinced that the order was wangled through fraud or misrepresentation of such a dimension, as would affect the very basis of the claim. (United Industries Insurance Company Ltd. Vs. Rajendra Singh)
  2. Mathematical or Clerical error (Section 152 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908)
  3. When some defect in procedure is detected. (KapraMazdoorEkta Union Vs. Birla Cotton Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd. and another)
  4. Where a court or tribunal is invested with the power to review its judgment or order on merits. (Kalabharati Advertising Vs. HemantVimalnathNarichania and others)

The High Court found petitioner’s review application does not fit into any of these above mentioned categories. It held “Tribunal can only make changes in the award if the case falls under the first three categories delineated above and not where a substantive review is sought on merits”.  The court further held “ The petitioner now contends that the aforesaid finding has been rendered inadvertently and in ignorance of the endorsement of renewal made on the license. The petitioner thus wants the evidence to be re-examined. In the opinion of the Court, such a mistake, if committed by the Tribunal, even if apparent on the face of record, would be a case of substantive review and not correction of a clerical error. The other ground, though not pleaded before the tribunal, is that in Claim Petition No.36 of 2009, relating to the same accident, the license of the driver was held to be valid. Thus, the petitioner seeks to rely on a piece of evidence coming into existence after the award was rendered. This again can only be a ground of substantive review.”

Read the Judgment here.

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