Can Motor Accident Claim Petition Be Entertained At The Place Of Claimant's Residence? SC To Examine [Read Order]

Can Motor Accident Claim Petition Be Entertained At The Place Of Claimants Residence? SC To Examine [Read Order]

The Supreme Court has issued notice in a special leave petition to consider the question of whether a motor accident claim petition can be entertained at the place of residence of the claimant.

In this case, the accident took place at district Siwan, Bihar, and the claim petition was filed in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. The tribunal at Bareilly had rejected the preliminary objection raised by the insurance company that, since the accident took place in the State of Bihar, the claim petition filed before the tribunal at Bareilly was not maintainable.

On appeal filed by the insurance company who contended that, both the claimants and the vehicle driver/owner were the residents of the State of Bihar, the high court relegated the matter to the tribunal to first decide the issue as to whether the tribunal is competent to decide the claim petition at Bareilly, UP, when admittedly the incident took place at Siwan in the State of Bihar. Against this order, the claimants approached the apex court by filing SLP.

The bench comprising Justice R Banumathi and Justice Indira Banerjee issued notice take into account the decision in Mantoo Sarkar v. Oriental Insurance Company Limited and Others.

In Mantoo Sarkar, the Supreme Court had invoked Article 142 of the Constitution to restore a judgment passed by the tribunal in Nainital (Uttarakhand) although the accident had taken place in Faridpur district of Uttar Pradesh. In the said case, the claimant had been a resident of Pilibhit (UP) although he had been working in Nanital district and residing there during the period of accident.

The court held in the said case: "The jurisdiction of the Tribunal having regard to the terminologies used therein must be held to be wider than the civil court. A claimant has a wide option. Residence of the claimant also determines jurisdiction of the Tribunal... What would be a residence of a person would, however, depend upon the fact situation obtaining in each case."

While setting aside the high court order, the SC bench had observed: "If the High Court judgment is to be complied with, appellant would again have to initiate another proceeding either at Bareilly or Gurgaon or at Delhi or at Jabalpur. The same evidence would have to be rendered once again. The question of fact which was required to be determined in the proceeding before the Tribunal, namely whether the driver of the truck or the driver of the bus had been driving their respective vehicles rashly and negligently would have to be determined afresh. The factual finding recorded in this case is that the driver of the truck was driving the truck rashly and negligently. In our opinion, in a case of this nature, we may even exercise our extra ordinary jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India."

Read the Order Here