9 Sep 2023 6:30 AM GMT
The Madras High Court has recently observed that under the Motor Vehicle Act, the limitation period will not be applicable to claims made when the police have already filed a report under Section 159 of Motor Vehicle Act.The provision stipulates that during investigation police officer shall prepare an accident information report to facilitate the settlement of claim and submit the same to...
The Madras High Court has recently observed that under the Motor Vehicle Act, the limitation period will not be applicable to claims made when the police have already filed a report under Section 159 of Motor Vehicle Act.
The provision stipulates that during investigation police officer shall prepare an accident information report to facilitate the settlement of claim and submit the same to the Claims Tribunal.
Justice V Lakshminarayan observed that when an FIR has already been registered in connection with a motor accident and details of the same is sent to the jurisdictional Tribunal, a claim petition has to be treated only as a reminder to the court to call for the FIR and register the same as Claim Petition.
“The upshot of the discussion is that on registration of an FIR, a claimant is entitled to present the petition without the fear of it being thrown out, on the ground of limitation. This would be the correct reading of the present legal dispensation in all cases where FIR is registered within six months, of the date of any motor accident which takes place after 01.04.2022,” the court observed.
The court was hearing a criminal revision petition against the return of his claim petition. The Petitioner Malaravan had an accident on October 11, 2022, and had filed the Claim petition on April 19, 2023. The Tribunal had returned the petition saying that it was time barred.
Malaravan had submitted that on account of the accident, he had suffered a fracture in his leg and the Doctors had advised him to take bed rest on account of the compound wound. He thus contended that the delay was due to his ill health and requested the court to direct numbering his claim petition.
The court had appointed Advocate N Vijayaraghavan as the Amicus Curiae who made detailed submissions about the history of limitation while deciding compensations. He informed the court that though the period of limitation was six months in the 1939 Act, the rigour was softened by adding a proviso that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal could condone the delay if sufficient cause had been shown.
Vijayaraghavan also informed the court that the 1939 Act was repealed by consolidated legislation in 1988, by which the discretionary power to condone delay was taken away partially, allowing only a condonation for a further six-month period. However, this proviso was further amended in 1994 deleting the condonation of delay only up to 6 months.
It was also informed that as per the recent amendment which came into effect on April 1, 2022, the period of limitation has been re-introduced as per which, no claim can be entertained beyond the period of six months from the date of the accident.
The court noted that in Tamil Nadu, all documents relating to motor vehicle accidents were digitally uploaded onto the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS) platform and it is also forwarded to the Claims Tribunal or Legal Services Authority digitally.
The court also noted that presently it was no longer the right of an accident victim to file a claim petition under Section 166 but it has bloomed into a full-fledged duty on the part of the police to file a First Accident Report (FAR), Interim Action Report (IAR) and Detailed Accident Report (DAR). Further, the court also noted that as per Rule 18 of Annexure XIII of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, it was mandatory upon the Claims Tribunal to kick start the compensatory mechanism.
Relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in Gohar Mohammed v. Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation and others, the court also noted that Police is no longer playing the mere role of an Investigating Authority and stopping with parting information, but are mandated to file report with the Tribunal which will treat the same as claim petition. Thus, the court noted that the claimant was no longer required to run around or suffer from a fear of petition being time-barred.
“The claimants have been freed from the shackles and are no more burdened to search for the documents necessary for filing a claim. The duty to report is now the police and the duty to process the said information given by the police and uploaded on to the website lies on the Tribunal. When access is given to the Tribunal to an FIR and the other details which have been uploaded by the police the claimant need not be made to run around or suffer from a fear that his petition is barred by time,” the court observed.
Thus, the court observed that it was the duty of the Claims Tribunal to aceess the information and proceed with the claim and in such cases, the issue of limitation of six months did not arise.
In the present case, the court noted that the FIR was filed within two days from the date of the accident, and thus, the claim petition was only a reminder to the court to call for the FIR and other reports and register the same as the Claim Petition. Thus, the court allowed the criminal revision.
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr.M.Jaisingh
Counsel for the Respondents: Mr.N.Vijayaraghavan Amicus Curiae
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 260
Case Title: Malaravan v Praveen Travels Private Limited
Case No: CRP No. 2558 of 2023