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[No Fault Principle] Employee Can Claim Compensation Both U/S 140 Motor Vehicle Act & U/S 3 Of Workmen's Compensation Act: Bombay High Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
15 Jun 2022 5:17 AM GMT
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The Bombay High Court recently dealt with a case wherein a truck driver, who was the employee of the owner of the truck met with a vehicular accident. As he had initiated compensation proceedings under section 140 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 ("M.V. Act"), his claim for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act 1923 (now Employees Compensation Act 1923) ("W.C. Act") was not entertained by the commissioner.

Single Judge S. G. MEHARE noted that the question before the court was, "Whether the compensation granted under chapter X of the M.V. act forfeits the right of the employee to claim the compensation under section 3 of the 1923 Act as provided under Section 167 of the M.V. Act?" This was answered in the negative by the court.

The appellant was a driver of the truck of respondent no. 1 which was insured by respondent no. 2. He met with a vehicular accident in which his left leg was injured, and he suffered 35% physical disability. He could not work as before the accident. He served the notices to both respondents. However, none of the respondents has paid him the compensation. Hence, he filed an application under Section 3 and 22 of W.C. Act.

The Commissioner rejected his claim as he had already approached the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. He had received compensation under section 140 of the M.V. Act therefore, the Commissioner held that the claim is barred under section 167 of the M.V. Act.

Aggrieved, the appellant filed this appeal. Relying upon the case of Maroti Shrawan Manghate vs Smt. Rita Y. Sapra and Anr. [2018 (1) All MR. 700], he stated that the Commissioner has misread and misinterpreted section 167 of the M.V. Act. An application under Section 140 of M.V. Act does not fall under the bar of Section 169 of M.V. Act. An application for compensation either under the W.C. Act or M.V. Act is maintainable pursuant to a Section 140 application.

The court noted that section 140 is part of Chapter X of the M.V. Act which deals with liability without fault in certain cases. Section 140 speaks of the liability to pay compensation in certain cases i.e death and permanent disablement, on the principle of no fault. Compensation under this chapter is in addition to the right to claim compensation under the principle of fault except the right to claim under section 163-A of the M.V. Act. Section 144 provides for the overriding effect of the provisions of this chapter.

The court observed that, "The provisions of the Sections are unambiguous, that where the death or permanent disablement is caused to an employee in a vehicular motor accident, he is entitled to the compensation under the principle of no fault liability in addition to the compensation under the principle of fault liability."

Section 167 of the M.V. Act enables a driver who is also an employee to select which forum he wants to approach for compensation, reliefs granted under chapter X of the M.V. Act would not come in the way of claiming compensation before the Commissioner of Employee's Compensation or the Claims Tribunal, the court observed.

The court concluded that if the employee receives compensation under Chapter X of the M.V. Act, his remedy to seek compensation either under the W.C. Act or the M.V. Act cannot be forfeited under section 167. Such an employee has an option to move an application for compensation either under the W.C. Act or M.V. Act.

The court noted that Commissioner has misread and misinterpreted Section 167 of the M.V. Act and erroneously dismissed the application of the appellant. Therefore, the appeal is allowed, and the impugned order is quashed and set aside. Since all the issues have not been answered on merit, the matter is sent back to the Commissioner of Employee's Compensation for determination of the compensation afresh within six months from the receipt of this order.

Case Title : Narayan v Mrs. Sangita and anr

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 214

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