Inform mishap victims of best claim options: High Court to Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh Tribunals : The Tribune India

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Inform mishap victims of best claim options: High Court to Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh Tribunals

Inform mishap victims of best claim options: High Court to Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh Tribunals


Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, July 9

In a judgment liable to change the way kin of accident victims are granted relief, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Motor Accident Claim Tribunals across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to apprise the claimants of the best available remedy under the Motor Vehicles Act before announcing the award. In all, Justice Sudeepti Sharma has issued seven guidelines.

Claimants not aware of right

The motor vehicle statute is a beneficial legislation. But the victims, claimants or the legal-representatives are not aware of their right to compensation and the best course of action available under the Act. — Justice Sudeepti Sharma

Justice Sharma asserted that the motor vehicle statute was a beneficial legislation. But, generally, the victims, claimants or the legal-representatives were not aware of their right to compensation and the best course of action available under the Act.

Justice Sharma also ruled that an appellate court had the power to convert a petition under Section 163-A of the Act to Section 166 to provide justice to the claimants. The assertion is significant as any amount of compensation can be granted in accordance with the loss to the claimants/victims under Section 166, but there is a cap under Section 163-A. The relief under the provisions can be granted only to some extent as provided by the statue.

Besides, establishing the negligence by a vehicle resulting in the victim’s death or permanent disablement in an accident is necessary under Section 166. But the requirement to prove negligence stands waived under Section 163-A.

Justice Sharma asserted the the tribunals would thoroughly appreciate the evidence and exercise their judicial discretion upon receiving the application under the provisions of the Act and inform the claimants of their right to seek compensation under the “best available remedy”.

Justice Sharma added the tribunal would advice the claimant to opt for Section 166 in case the negligence was established, even if the claim petition was filed under other provisions. It would then grant a compensation under Section 166, keeping in view the law settled by the apex court

Justice Sharma observed Section 164 was introduced with the 2019 amendment, following which the owner or the authorised insurer was liable to pay compensation of Rs 5 lakh for death and Rs 2.5 lakh for grievous hurt. The claimant was not required to prove that the death or grievous hurt resulted from a wrongful act, neglect or default of the vehicle owner or any other person. As such, a claim petition initially filed under Section 164 could also be converted to Section 166 after careful consideration of the case’s facts, circumstances and the evidence presented by both parties.

“The Judge should not go into the technicalities of provisions, especially in motor vehicle cases, under which the application or petition is moved but should apply his judicial mind, since these are only the irregularities and not illegalities which cannot be cured”.

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