It is not as if, it can be open to all and sundry, to approach a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, to raise a claim for compensation, at any juncture, after the accident had taken place, the bench observed.
The Supreme Court, in M/s. Purohit and Company vs. Khatoonbee, has observed that though there is no limitation period to raise a claim for compensation before a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, it should be done within a reasonable time.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar was considering an appeal against a high court order which had upheld the justiciability of a claim petition filed 28 years after the accident took place on the ground that no period of limitation had been provided for raising a claim for compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The bench agreed with the contention advanced on behalf of the appellants, that even though there may no longer be a defined period of limitation for approaching the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal to raise a claim for compensation (under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988), yet a claimant must approach a court for raising such a claim within a reasonable time.
The only reason stated in the claim petition, as regards the inordinate delay in raising the claim, was that the claimants are poor and have no knowledge about the law.
Refusing to accept such a justification, the court held that the claim raised before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal was not a surviving claim when they approached the tribunal.
“The question of reasonability would naturally depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. We are however, satisfied, that a delay of 28 years, even without reference to any other fact, cannot be considered as a prima facie reasonable period, for approaching the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal,” the court said.
Read the Judgment here.