Motor Accident Claims; SC cautions Courts against Hyper Technical approach in interpreting benevolent provisions for Accident Victims [Read Judgment]

Motor Accident Claims; SC cautions Courts against Hyper Technical approach in interpreting benevolent provisions for Accident Victims [Read Judgment]


There is no bar to a claim petition being filed at a place where the insurance company, which is the main contesting parties in such cases, has its business. In such cases, there is no prejudice to any party, the Court said.


The Supreme Court in Malati Sardar vs. National Insurance Company Limited has restated its earlier position in Mantoo Sarkar vs. Oriental Insurance Company Limited (2009) 2 SCC 244 regarding territorial jurisdiction of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. Apex Court Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel held that there is no bar to a claim petition being filed at a place where the insurance company, which is the main contesting parties in such cases, has its business.

Context

A young teacher from Hoogly died in an accident in 2008. The Tribunal in Kolkata, on his application awarded a compensation of Rs.16, 12,200/-. The appeal preferred by the Insurance Company preferred was allowed on the ground that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction since the deceased is not a resident of Kolkata and the accident did not take place in Kolkata. The mother of the deceased approached the Apex Court.

Law

Section 166(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, reads ‘Every application under sub-section (1) shall be made, at the option of the claimant, either to the Claims Tribunal having jurisdiction over the area in which the accident occurred, or to the Claims Tribunal within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the claimant resides or carries on business or within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the defendant resides, and shall be in such form and contain such particulars as may be prescribed’

In absence of prejudice, no objection of lack of territorial jurisdiction be entertained

The Court said that, the view taken by High court is contradictory to the Apex Court ruling in Mantoo Sarkar case wherein it held that, with regard to Section 21 CPC, objection of lack of territorial jurisdiction could not be entertained in absence of any prejudice. In that case it was further held that “Distinction was required to be drawn between a jurisdiction with regard to subject matter on the one hand and that of territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction on the other. A judgment may be nullity in the former category, but not in the later. “The Bench said that the High Court was not justified in setting aside the award of the Tribunal in absence of any failure of justice even if there was merit in the plea of lack of territorial jurisdiction.

Claim petition may be filed in a place where Insurance company has its business

The Court further held that there is no bar to a claim petition being filed at a place where the insurance company, which is the main contesting parties in such cases, has its business. “In such cases, there is no prejudice to any party. There is no failure of justice”, the court said.

No to Hyper technical approach

The Court also cautioned against adopting hyper technical approach in interpreting a benevolent provision for the victims of accidents of negligent driving and said that the provision for territorial jurisdiction has to be interpreted consistent with the object of facilitating remedies for the victims of accidents. Hyper technical approach in such matters can hardly be appreciated, the Bench said.

Read the Judgment here.