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Vimla Devi and Ors. Vs. National Insurance Company Limited and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (16 Nov 2018)

A procedural lapse could not be made basis to reject claim petition


Motor Vehicles

Present appeal is filed by the claimants against the final judgment passed by the High Court whereby the High Court dismissed the appeal filed by the claimants and affirmed the award passed by the Tribunal. By award, the Tribunal held that, the claimants failed to prove the accident for want of evidence and the one adduced was not exhibited and hence was of no use. The claimants felt aggrieved and filed appeal in the High Court. By impugned order, the High Court dismissed the appeal, which has given rise to filing of the present appeal by way of special leave by the claimants in present Court.

The Motor Vehicles 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.

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 Rajendra Prasad. The Appellants filed material documents to prove the factum of the accident and the persons involved therein. The documents clearly established the identity of the Truck involved in the accident, the identity of the driver driving the truck, the identity of the owner of the Truck, the name of the insurer of the offending Truck, the period of coverage of insurance of the Truck, the details of the lodging of FIR in the concerned police station in relation to the accident.

The Appellants examined three witnesses and thereby discharged their initial burden to prove the case. 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. It was nothing but a procedural lapse, which could not be made basis to reject the claim petition. It was more so when the Appellants adduced oral and documentary evidence to prove their case and the Respondents did nothing to counter them.

The Appellants were able to prove the factum of the accident so also the factum of rash and negligent act of the driver causing the accident. It is also proved that, the offending Truck was insured with Respondent No. 1 at the time of accident and was owned by Respondent No. 3. Impugned order is set aside. The Appellants' claim petition is allowed in part. Respondent No. 1-Insurance Company is directed to deposit the awarded sum within 3 months with the Claims Tribunal for being paid to the Appellants after proper verification.


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