The Madras High Court on Tuesday withdrew its earlier order allowing the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals in the Tamil Nadu to entertain compromise applications, without the need for any transfer petitions; to record compromise settlements themselves based on digital consent of parties.
The bench had in the said order on May 11 authorised the Claims Tribunals to examine and entertain digital consent and if satisfied that they were true and trustworthy, go ahead and record the compromise, dispensing with the need or insistence on physical appearance or signing of Joint Memos of Compromise.
The Court noted the "lack of consistency, uniformity and, therefore, an unavoidable element of ad-hocism" in recording compromise settlements by the Claims Tribunals in the state.
"The stakeholders do not have a uniform template to adopt and follow", said the Single Bench.
The Court on Tuesday also observed that there is no uniform digital platform in place before the Motor Vehicle claims tribunals in Tamil Nadu, unlike before itself, which is causing issues in recording compromise in motor accidents claims petitions (MCOPs). "The unevenness in the availability of this technology tool, is an issue of concern", remarked the Single Judge.
The Court came alive to this "unbalanced support base to the claims tribunals" and to the fact that "there is already an established law and procedure in place to record such compromise".
"This court therefore apprehends that the directions may tend to create inconsistencies resulting in prejudice to the claimants who under certain circumstances may not be clear about the actual compromise arrived at, due to lack of personal communication. The directions given by this court keeping in mind the interests of the claimants during these difficult times, should not turn out to be counterproductive to their rights and interests. It has therefore become necessary for this court to recall (the order of May 11)", said the Single Bench.
"They shall cease to exist for claims tribunals to apply and follow from this day onwards", directed the Court, further clarifying that the regular procedure for recording compromise should be undertaken.
"I am of the view that the Claims Tribunals are as competent as this Court to allow such reliefs. All that this court did, was to examine the digital consent of parties and on satisfaction of consensus as genuine, accorded compromise.
The Claims Tribunals can also do the same and possibly more effectively as the victims may be closer to the forums, in most cases", the Court had observed on May 11.
"The Claims Tribunals can examine and entertain digital consent and if satisfied that they were true and trustworthy, could go ahead and record the compromise, without need or insistence on physical appearance or signing of Joint Memos of Compromise. It is up to the respective Claims Tribunals to examine such requests and be satisfied on the truth and veracity of consent and grant them the benefit of compromise. There is no need or compulsion of every one to move this Court by way of a transfer petition. I commend this course to all the Claims Tribunals", it had ordered.
However, the Single Judge had clarified that this practice and procedure shall be Covid19 time specific and the above procedure cannot be treated as a precedent for all times to come.
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