Motor Vehicle Act- Non-exhibition of Documents doesn’t Disentitle Claim for Compensation-Supreme Court


February 21, 2019

In this present case, the Supreme Court opined that non-exhibition of documents is a procedural lapse and does not disentitle a claim when otherwise sufficient evidence is adduced and documents established the identity of offending vehicle.

Case name: Vimla Devi & ors. v. National Insurance Company Limited & ors.

The claimants who are the wife and minor children have lodged the present appeal against High Court’s order, whereby the High Court upheld Motor Accident Compensation Tribunal

’s (MACT) order holding that the claimants had failed to prove the accident for want of evidence and the document adduced was not exhibited and hence was of no use.

Here it would be relevant to mention that the offending truck in the case had caused death of the only bread earner in the family.

Bench’s Verdict

The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court while allowing the claim of the appellants made the following observations in the case:

  • The Bench opined that the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 is a beneficial piece of legislation enacted to give solace to the victims of the motor accident who suffer bodily injury or die untimely. The Act is designed in a manner, which relieves the victims from ensuring strict compliance provided in law, which are otherwise applicable to the suits and other proceedings while prosecuting the claim petition filed under the Act for claiming compensation for the loss sustained by them in the accident.
  • While making reference to Supreme Court’s verdict in the case of United India Insurance Company Ltd. vs Shila Datta & Ors.[1], the Court observed that the claim petition filed under the Motor Vehicle Act is neither a suit nor an adversarial lis in the traditional sense but it is a proceeding in terms of and regulated by the provisions of Chapter XII of the Act, which is a complete Code in itself.
  • In view of the basic principles of Motor Vehicle Law, the Court noted that the High Court were not justified in dismissing the appellants’ claim petition. In our view, the appellants’ claim petition ought to have been allowed for awarding reasonable compensation to the appellants in accordance with law the appellants had adduced sufficient evidence to prove the accident and the rash and negligent driving of the driver of the offending vehicle, which resulted in death of the deceased.
  • It was also observed by the Apex Court in the case that if the Court did not exhibit the documents despite the appellants referring them at the time of recording evidence then in such event, the appellants cannot be denied of their right to claim the compensation on such ground. The Court noted that it was nothing but a procedural lapse, which could not be made basis to reject the claim petition.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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[1] 2011 (10) SCC 509