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'Litigation Dragged To Court, Reflects Sorry State Of Affairs': Jharkhand High Court On Govt Dept's Failure To Satisfy Compensation Award

Shrutika Pandey
16 May 2022 4:38 AM GMT
Jharkhand High Court, Railway Protection Force Officer, RPF, Enquiry, House Search, Enquiry, Search Warrant, Section 165 CrPC, RPF Officer, Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act, Justice Anubha Rawat Choudhary,
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The Jharkhand High Court recently expressed regret over a government department's failure to satisfy the compensation awarded to the kin of a motor accident victim, following her demise due to a mishap caused by the department's vehicle.

Referring to State's Public Health Engineering Department (Dumka), Justice Gautam Kumar Choudhary remarked,

"The instant appeal reflects a sorry state of affair where instead of satisfying the award of compensation the litigation has been dragged to this Court without any sound or reasonable ground. The Award was jointly and severally against both the appellant who was the driver of the vehicle and the PHED department. No appeal has been preferred by the Department, therefore, it was incumbent on its part of it to have satisfied the award and to have proceeded against the driver as per law for any breach of terms and conditions of the employment."

It directed the PHED department to satisfy the compensation award within a month of passing this order.

The driver of the offending vehicle had preferred the instant appeal against the judgment and award of compensation for the death of one Nisha in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drilling machine. On the fateful day, the drilling machine of the PHED department (Dumka) rammed into the deceased's house, resulting in its collapse and the death of the occupant Nisha.

The tribunal had awarded a compensation of Rs. 75,000/- to the son of the deceased under Section 163A of the Motor Vehicle Act. This appeal was preferred on two grounds- one, challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, and two, the second party being an authority within the meaning of 'State' under Article 12 of the Constitution of India, it was not the driver but the department which was liable to pay the compensation amount.

The Court noted that the first ground is without any basis, and no reason has been assigned as to how the Tribunal passing the Judgment and Award had no jurisdiction. It remarked that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and Additional Motor Accident Claims are constituted by the State Govt. under Section 165 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. Moreover, jurisdiction was neither raised before the Tribunal, nor any issue was framed regarding it. It referred to the case of State of Maharashtra v. Kanchanmala Vijaysing Shirke, (1995) 5 SCC 659, where it was held that the department's liability depends on the fact whether the accident took place when the vehicle was being used during employment.

Given that it is an admitted position that the vehicle was owned by the Govt. department and not for the private purpose of the driver, the Court directed the PHED department to satisfy the award of compensation within a month.

"No appeal has been preferred by the Department, therefore, it was incumbent on the part of it to have satisfied the award and to have proceeded against the driver as per law for any breach of terms and condition of the employment," it said.

Case Title: Birendra Prasad Roy v. Yogeshwar Mirdha & Ors

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Jha) 52

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