13 July 2023 10:36 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday urged the States and High Courts that had not filed their compliance reports in connection with a slew of directions issued by the Apex Court in December 2022 with regard to motor accident compensation claims to do so by August 14. The Court warned that if the reports are not submitted on time, the Court would have to insist on the presence of Registrar Generals of...
The Supreme Court on Monday urged the States and High Courts that had not filed their compliance reports in connection with a slew of directions issued by the Apex Court in December 2022 with regard to motor accident compensation claims to do so by August 14. The Court warned that if the reports are not submitted on time, the Court would have to insist on the presence of Registrar Generals of the concerned High Courts and the Chief Secretaries of the concerned States in Court. The guidelines were issued in 2022 to carry out the purpose of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act and the Rules.
A division bench of Justice J K Maheshwari and Justice K V Viswanathan said in its order:
“In case compliance report is not filed by the remaining High Courts or the State authorities, before the next date, this Court shall be constrained to pass an order seeking presence of the Registrar Generals of the concerned High Court and the Chief Secretaries of the concerned State /Union Territories.”
The Court noted that reports/compliance affidavits have not been received from High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Karnataka, Manipur, Patna, Rajasthan, Telangana and Allahabad.
The Court in December 2022, had issued several guidelines for the registration of First Accident Report by the police immediately after a motor vehicle accident, so that the claim process under the Motor Vehicles Act can be initiated at the earliest.
To ensure proper compliance with the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019 and the related Rules, the Court had directed the Chief Secretary/Director General of Police in every State to develop a specialized unit in every police station and post trained police personnel to ensure the compliance of the provisions of the M.V. Amendment Act and the Rules within 3 months.
The Court had also directed that after registering the FIR, the Investigating Officer, as per Motor Vehicles Amendment Rules, 2022 should submit the First Accident Report within 48 hours to the Claims Tribunal. The Interim Accident Report and Detailed Accident Report also should be filed before the Claims Tribunal within the prescribed time limit. To ensure compliance to this, the Registrar General of the High Courts were directed to distribute police stations attaching them with the appropriate Claim Tribunals.
The Court had also urged the Registrar General of the High Courts, States Legal Services Authority, and State Judicial Academies to sensitize all stakeholders as early as possible concerning the provisions of Chapters XI and XII of the MV Amendment Act and the MV 65 Amendment Rules, 2022 and to ensure the mandate of law.
The State Authorities were also directed to take appropriate steps to develop a joint web portal/platform to coordinate and facilitate the stakeholders to carry out the provisions of the MV Amendment Act and the Rules in coordination with any technical agency.
In this regard, the respective Chief Secretaries of States and Registrar Generals of respective High Courts were directed to file compliance reports.
The following are the detailed guidelines issued by the Court on 15th December 2022 :
i) On receiving the intimation regarding road accident by use of a motor vehicle at public place, the SHO concerned shall take steps as per Section 159 of the M.V. Amendment Act.
ii) After registering the FIR, Investigating Officer shall take recourse as specified in the M.V. Amendment Rules, 2022 and submit the FAR within 48 hours to the Claims Tribunal. The IAR and DAR shall be filed before the Claims Tribunal within the time limit subject to compliance of the provisions of the Rules.
iii) The registering officer is duty bound to verify the registration of the vehicle, driving licence, fitness of vehicle, permit and other ancillary issues and submit the report in coordination to the police officer before the Claims Tribunal.
iv) The flow chart and all other documents, as specified in the Rules, shall either be in vernacular language or in English language, as the case may be and shall be supplied as per Rules. The Investigating Officer shall inform the victim(s)/legal representative(s), driver(s), owner(s), insurance companies and other stakeholders with respect to the action taken following the M.V. Amendment Rules and shall take steps to produce the witnesses on the date, so fixed by the Tribunal.
v) For the purpose to carry out the direction No. (iii), distribution of police stations attaching them with the Claim Tribunals is required. Therefore, distribution memo attaching the police stations to the Claim Tribunals shall be issued by the Registrar General of the High Courts from time to time, if not already issued to ensure the compliance of the Rules.
vi) In view of the M.V. Amendment Act and Rules, as discussed hereinabove, the role of the Investigating Officer is very important. He is required to comply with the provisions of the Rules within the time limit, as prescribed therein. Therefore, for effective implementation of the M.V. Amendment Act and the Rules framed thereunder, the specified trained police personnel are required to be deputed to deal with the motor accident claim cases. Therefore, we direct that the Chief Secretary/Director General of Police in each and every State/Union Territory shall develop a specialized unit in every police station or at town level and post the trained police personnel to ensure the compliance of the provisions of the M.V. Amendment Act and the Rules, within a period of three months from the date of this order.
vii) On receiving FAR from the police station, the Claims Tribunal shall register such FAR as Miscellaneous Application. On filing the IAR and DAR by the Investigating Officer in connection with the said FAR, it shall be attached with the same Miscellaneous Application. The Claims Tribunal shall pass appropriate orders in the said application to carry out the purpose of Section 149 of the M.V. Amendment Act and the Rules, as discussed above.
viii) The Claim Tribunals are directed to satisfy themselves with the offer of the Designated Officer of the insurance company with an intent to award just and reasonable compensation. After recording such satisfaction, the settlement be recorded under Section 149(2) of the M.V. Amendment Act, subject to consent by the claimant(s). If the claimant(s) is not ready to accept the same, the date be fixed for hearing and affording an opportunity to produce the documents and other evidence seeking enhancement, the petition be decided. In the said event, the said enquiry shall be limited only to the extent of the enhancement of compensation, shifting onus on the claimant(s).
ix) The General Insurance Council and all insurance companies are directed to issue appropriate directions to follow the mandate of Section 149 of the M.V. Amendment Act and the amended Rules. The appointment of the Nodal Officer prescribed in Rule 24 and the Designated Officer prescribed in Rule 23 shall be immediately notified and modified orders be also notified time to time to all the police stations/stakeholders.
x) If the claimant(s) files an application under Section 164 or 166 of the M.V. Amendment Act, on receiving the information, the Miscellaneous Application registered under Section 149 shall be sent to the Claims Tribunal where the application under Section 164 or 166 is pending immediately by the Claims Tribunal.
xi) In case the claimant(s) or legal representative(s) of the deceased have filed separate claim petition(s) in the territorial jurisdiction of different High Courts, in the said situation, the first claim petition filed by the claimant(s)/legal representative(s) shall be maintained by the said Claims Tribunal and the subsequent claim petition(s) shall stand transferred to the Claims Tribunal where the first claim petition was filed and pending. It is made clear here that the claimant(s) are not required to apply before this Court seeking transfer of other claim petition(s) though filed in the territorial jurisdiction of different High Courts. The Registrar Generals of the High Courts shall take appropriate steps and pass appropriate order in this regard in furtherance to the directions of this Court.
xii) If the claimant(s) takes recourse under Section 164 or 166 of the M.V. Amendment Act, as the case may be, he/they are directed to join Nodal Officer/Designated Officer of the insurance company as respondents in the claim petition as proper party of the place of accident where the FIR has been registered by the police station. Those officers may facilitate the Claims Tribunal specifying the recourse as taken under Section 149 of the M.V. Amendment Act.
xiii) Registrar General of the High Courts, States Legal Services Authority and State Judicial Academies are requested to sensitize all stakeholders as early as possible with respect to the provisions of Chapters XI and XII of the M.V. Amendment Act and the M.V. Amendment Rules, 2022 and to ensure the mandate of law.
xiv) For compliance of mandate of Rule 30 of the M.V. Amendment Rules, 2022, it is directed that on disputing the liability by the insurance company, the Claims Tribunal shall record the evidence through Local Commissioner and the fee and expenses of such Local Commissioner shall be borne by the insurance company.
xv) The State Authorities shall take appropriate steps to develop a joint web portal/platform to coordinate and facilitate the stakeholders for the purpose to carry out the provisions of M.V. Amendment Act and the Rules in coordination with any technical agency and be notified to public at large.
The guidelines were issued when the bench was hearing a plea assailing the final order passed by the Allahabad High Court dated September 9, 2018.
In 2018, the MACT allowed the claim petition by a deceased accident and awarded a compensation of Rs. 31,90,000/¬ 2 along with 7% interest. While computing the loss of dependency, the annual income of the deceased was accepted as Rs. 3,09,660/¬.
It was held that the vehicle was not being operated as per the terms of the permit and was in violation of the terms and conditions of the insurance policy, therefore, the owner of the offending vehicle was held liable to pay compensation.
The appellant appealed before the High Court assailing the issue of liability contending that there was no violation of guidelines and submitted that the offending vehicle was insured with the insurance company indemnifying the liability. The appellant further contended that he had Special Temporary Authorization to operate the bus on the route for which the fee was paid. The High Court, however, affirmed the findings of MACT and held that the vehicle owner failed to produce the original permit and also could not get the same proof to call the person from the Transport Department. Aggrieved, the party moved to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court firstly noted that in Rajesh Tyagi's case, the Delhi High Court had formulated the “Claims Tribunal Agreed Procedure” for time-bound settlement of motor accident claims within 90 to 120 days and directed its implementation only for trial as a pilot project for six months in 2010.
"The High Court also directed the Delhi Police to prepare “Accident Investigation Manual” for implementation of the CTAP. In the output, it revolutionized the Motor Accident Compensation Scheme due to which the 13 claimant(s) received the compensation within 120 days of the accident", the Bench noted.
In 2017, the top Court directed all States to implement the ‘Modified CTAP’.
But in M.R. Krishna Murthi Vs. The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., the Supreme Court was apprised of the fact that there was no effective implementation of modified CTAP by Claim Tribunals at all India level.
Thereafter, the Court directed National Legal Services Authority to take up the matter and monitor the same in co¬ordination and co21 operation with various High Courts. Further, directions were also given to State Judicial Academies to sensitize the Presiding Officers of Claim Tribunals, senior police officials, and insurance companies for the implementation of modified CTAP. Lastly, this Court also directed the Claim Tribunals pan India to implement the ‘Motor Accident Claims Annuity Deposit Scheme’.
Subsequently, Chapter XI – Insurance of Motor Vehicles against third party risks’ and Chapter XII – Claims Tribunals were amended as per the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2019
On Section 146, whether insurance of motor vehicle is made necessary, the Bench opined that,
"On perusing the MV Amendment Act, in particular Section 146 of Chapter XI, it is clear that a motor vehicle cannot ply on public place nor is allowed to be used at the public place unless insured. The exemption from insurance has been prescribed to the vehicles owned by the Central Government, State Government, local authority or any State Transport Undertaking, if the vehicle is used for the purpose not connected with any commercial enterprise...."
The Bench also went through the relevant provisions to process the claim before the Tribunal for grant of compensation.
In the said case, the Bench dismissed the appeal and reconfirmed the MACT's and High Court's orders.
Case Title: Gohar Mohammed Versus Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation & others | Civil Appeal No. 9322 OF 2022
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