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Motor Accident Claims : Does Third Party Insurance Cover Pillion Rider?Supreme Court Refers To Larger Bench

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
31 Aug 2022 4:00 AM GMT
Motor Accident Claims : Does Third Party Insurance Cover Pillion Rider?Supreme Court Refers To Larger Bench
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Whether a pillion rider on a motorcycle is a third party? Is the insurance company liable to indemnify the insured on account of the injuries or death of such pillion rider in case of an "Act Only" Policy? The Supreme Court has referred these questions to a larger bench.The bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Vikram Nath was considering a contention raised in a Special Leave Petition...

Whether a pillion rider on a motorcycle is a third party? Is the insurance company liable to indemnify the insured on account of the injuries or death of such pillion rider in case of an "Act Only" Policy? The Supreme Court has referred these questions to a larger bench.

The bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Vikram Nath was considering a contention raised in a Special Leave Petition that a pillion rider on a motorcycle is not a third party, therefore, the insurance company is not liable to  indemnify the insured on account of the injuries or death of such pillion rider.

The SLP was filed against a Kerala High Court judgment and the counsel for the petitioner relied on two earlier judgments of the Supreme Court viz. United India Insurance Company Limited Vs. Tilak Singh 2006 (4) SCC 404 and Oriental Insurance Company Limited Vs. Sudhakaran K V 2008 (7) SCC 428. Referring to Indian Motor Tariff Endorsement No. 70, it was further contended that in "Act Only" policy, the insured has to pay extra premium to cover the pillion rider. In Tilak Singh (supra), it was held that insurance company owed no liability towards the injuries suffered by the pillion rider, as the insurance policy was a statutory policy, and hence it did not cover the risk of death of or bodily injury to gratuitous passengers. In Sudhakaran KV (supra), it was held that the pillion rider in a two wheeler was not to be treated as a third party when the accident has taken place owing to rash and negligent riding of the scooter and not on the part of the driver of another vehicle.

"However, the question as to whether the third party includes all other persons other than the insured, who is the first party and the insurer, who is the second party. Therefore, all other persons who are neither the insured nor the insurer will be third party and will be covered by the Act Only policy, we have prima facie reservation about the view expressed. Such question is required to be determined authoritatively.", the bench observed while referring the issue to a larger bench.

In the impugned judgment, the Kerala High Court had relied on in Manuara Khatun and Ors v. Rajesh Kr.Singh and Ors.(AIR 2017 SC 1204) wherein the Supreme Court found that the deceased was a gratuitous passenger not covered under the Insurance policy, insurer was directed to pay amount of compensation to the claimants and to recover it from the insured. The High Court had also noted that Shivaraj v. Rajendra and Anr.(AIR 2018 SC 4252) was a case wherein there was no evidence to show that claimant was traveling as loader in the trailer attached to tractor or any trailer was insured or attached to tractor and that the trailer was insured. It was held that, insurer was liable to pay compensation amount determined by the Tribunal and granted liberty to recover the same from the owner of the offending vehicle.

Case : Mohana Krishnan S vs  K.Balasubramaniyam | SLP(C) 3433/2020

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 726

Headnotes 

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 - Motor accident claims- Does third party insurance cover pillion rider of a motor cycle? Supreme Court refers to larger bench

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