In an important judgment delivered on Tuesday, the Supreme Court has issued significant directions to bring in a mechanism which prevents delays and other obstacles in awarding compensation to road accident victims.
While considering an appeal filed by a practicing lawyer M.R. Krishna Murthy, who had suffered an accident when he was 18 years of age, the bench noted the submissions made by Senior Advocate Arun Mohan who mooted for establishing a Motor Accident Mediation Authority (MAMA) in every district in the country.
Observing that the suggestion made by the Senior Advocate are 'worthy of acceptance', the bench recommend to the Government to examine the feasibility of setting up MAMA by making necessary amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act itself. It said:
"Having regard to the fact that large number of accidents are giving rise to phenomenal quantum jump in such cases, methods need to be adopted for quick resolution. Here, mediation as a concept of dispute resolution, even before dispute becomes part of adversarial adjudicatory process, would be of great significance. Advantages of mediation are manifold. This stands recognised by the Legislature as well as policy makers and need no elaboration. Mediation is here to stay. It is here to evolve. It is because of the advantages of mediation as a method here to find new grounds. It is here to prosper, as its time has come. It is now finding statutory recognition and has been introduced in few Statutes as well. Examples are the Companies Act, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, Commercial Courts Act etc. In these enactments provisions are made even for pre-litigation mediation by making this process mandatory. There is, in any case, umbrella provisions in the form of Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure which, inter alia, provides for court annexed mediation as well. Time is ripe now to have similar mechanism for settling accident claims as well. Therefore, the suggestion of establishing MAMA is laudable"
The bench then issued these directions:
We impress upon the Government to also consider the feasibility of enacting Indian Mediation Act to take care of various aspects of mediation in general. The Government may examine the feasibility of setting up MAMA by making necessary amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act. For this purpose, it can consider the two flow charts given by the appellant. In the interregnum, NALSA is directed to set up Motor Accident Mediation Cell which can function independently under the aegis of NALSA or can be handed over to MCPC. Such a project should be prepared within a period of two months and it should start functioning immediately thereafter at various levels as suggested in this judgment. We reiterate the directions contained in order dated November 6, 2017 in Jai Prakash case for implementation of the latest Modified Claims Tribunal Agreed Procedure. For ensuring such implementation, NALSA is directed to take up the same in coordination and cooperation with various High Courts. MACAD Scheme shall be implemented by all Claim Tribunals on All India basis. Banks, Members of Indian Banks Assocation, who had taken decision to implement MACAD Scheme would do the same on All India basis.We impress upon the Government to look into the feasibility of framing necessary schemes and for the availability of annuity certificates. This exercise may be done within the period of six months and decision be taken thereupon. Likewise, we direct that there should be programmes from time to time, in all State Judicial Academies, to sensitizing the Presiding Officers of the Claims Tribunals, Senior Police Officers of the State Police as well as Insurance Company for the implementation of the said Procedure.