27 March 2023 10:58 AM GMT
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has recently ruled that the insurer cannot escape its liability to pay compensation to the claimants on the ground that the legal heirs of the deceased owner were not made parties to the claim petitions.A bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar made these observations while hearing a bunch of appeals in terms of which the appellant insurance company had...
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has recently ruled that the insurer cannot escape its liability to pay compensation to the claimants on the ground that the legal heirs of the deceased owner were not made parties to the claim petitions.
A bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar made these observations while hearing a bunch of appeals in terms of which the appellant insurance company had assailed the award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Jammu.
The appellant challenged the impugned award on the grounds that the claimants had not impleaded the legal heirs of deceased owner of the offending vehicle as party to the claim petitions and hence the claim petitions were not maintainable.
Appellants submitted that the owner cum driver of the offending vehicle had died in the same accident and the claimants, after deleting him from array of the parties, did not take steps to implead his LRs, thereby rendering the claim petitions and the consequent award untenable under law.
Appellants further contended that since no FIR relating to the accident was registered by the concerned Police Station, hence the accident was not established.
Deliberating on the primary ground of the appeal, Justice Dhar observed that Section 155 of the Motor Vehicles Act is amply clear that if the death of an insured has occurred after the happening of accident which has given rise to a claim, the same would continue to survive against the estate of the insured or against the insurer.
In order to address the question as to whether, in the face of aforesaid provision, the present claim petitions without impleading the LRs of the deceased owner as parties, are maintainable, the bench referred to an earlier pronouncement of the coordinate bench of the J&K High Court in Bajaj Allianz General. Insurance. Co. Ltd. vs. Naresh Kumar and another 2021 wherein it was held that Section 155 of the Act of 1988 clearly states that in case of death of the person, in whose favour a certificate of insurance had been issued, after the happening of the accident, which gave rise to filing of claim petition cannot bar the proceedings and, therefore, proceedings do not abate.
Deliberating further on the argument of the appellant that since the insured had died in the same accident which was the subject matter of the claim petitions, as such, Section 155 of the Act of 1988 would not come to the rescue of claimants, the bench observed that the said argument is misconceived for the reason that, in section 155 of the Act, the expression used is “if it occurs after the happening of an event which has given rise to a claim” which implies that if death of the insured has taken place after the accident which gives rise to cause of action for filing a claim petition, the petition can survive against the insurer without impleading the legal heirs of the owner.
Applying the said position of law to the instant matter the court said that no doubt, death of the insured has taken place in the same accident which has given rise to cause of action in favour of the claimants, but it cannot be stated that death of the owner had taken place prior to the accident.
"His death certainly took place after the occurrence of the accident and not prior to that, so, at the time of the accident, the certificate of insurance issued by the appellant-Insurance company in favour of the deceased owner was in force. Therefore, provisions of Section 155 of the Act would certainly save the claim petitions filed by the claimants in the instant case", the bench underscored.
Declining the other contention of the appellant that no FIR had been registered in thd matter and hence the accident was not established, Justice Dhar observed that the police has conducted the inquest proceedings under Section 174 of Cr.P.Cand merely because FIR was not registered, but only inquest proceedings were conducted by the police, it cannot be stated that the occurrence has not been proved .
Accordingly the bench found the appeal devoid of any merit and dismissed the same.
Case Title: IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Co. Ltd Vs Om Prakash.
Citation:2023 LiveLaw (JKL) 66
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment