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Shrimati Niranjan Kaur and anr. Vs. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject;Motor Vehicles
CourtGuwahati High Court
Decided On
Case NumberM.A. (F) No. 54 of 1978
Judge
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110A(3)
AppellantShrimati Niranjan Kaur and anr.
RespondentNew India Assurance Co. Ltd. and anr.
Appellant AdvocateS.C. Das and D.P. Chaliha, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateP. Chowdhury, K.C. Das and A.K. Choudhury, Advs.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
- - and that the painful passing away of their daughter rendered them almost indifferent to life and so they failed to lodge the claim in time. that it was a sad occurrence was also admitted, but the time between her death and the filing of this petition was beyond condonation, because the petitioner was doing his usual daily life work since her death. it may be noted that the appellant in his affidavit clearly stated about his mental condition and the time taken for collecting information for filing the claim petition and those statements were not denied. provided that the claims tribunal may entertain the application after the expiry of the said period if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time......to bed for about two years and under these circumstances it was held that the delay in filing the claim application should be condoned. so also in a. harsha v. rai v. dr. k. v. kama [1973] acj 57 ; air 1973 mys 162, it had been held that the limitation act has no application to an application under section 110a and the period fixed for filing an application under that section is subject to its being extended in suitable cases at the discretion of the tribunal if sufficient cause is shown. when a person is mentally afflicted, normal care and caution may not be expected of him and, under such circumstances, his petition should not be thrown out. 5. applying the above guidelines, we find that in the instant case, appellant had to run from gauhati to delhi and to vellore to save the life of.....
Judgment:

Saikia, J.

1. This motor vehicle first appeal is from the order dated June 24, 1978, of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Nowgong, Assam, rejecting the appellant's application for condonation of delay in filing his claim petition in Motor Accidents Claims Case No. 1 of 1978. The appellant in the said case filed the petition supported by an affidavit for condonation of delay both under Section 110A(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, and under section 5 of the Limitation Act. Both the appellants were injured in a bus accident on January 8, 1976, when the Tata diesel bus No. ASZ 851, in which they were travelling, met with an accident. The claim petition was filed only on January 3, 1978, along with the aforesaid application for condonation of delay. It was stated therein that immediately after the accident, the appellants were awfully busy in the treatment of their ailing daughter who died later at Gauhati; and that the painful passing away of their daughter rendered them almost indifferent to life and so they failed to lodge the claim in time. It was further stated that the delay was never intentional and to this effect an affidavit had been sworn and attached therewith wherein it was further stated that his elder daughter, Mindo Singh, aged about 4 years 9 months, who was suffering from blood-cancer at that time and for whose treatment he had to run from pillar to post, from Gauhati to Delhi then from Delhi to Vellore, and, ultimately, his first child, Mindo, breathed her last at Gauhati. During these days he had to shift from Marigaon to Gauhati on transfer. He further stated that after the greatest misfortune in life due to the death of his daughter, his life became almost mechanical and that considering, the gravity of the accident, and the mental and physical harm caused by it to him and his wife, he had to collect the relevant information for filing the claim and the delay in the process in the above circumstances was no doubt conspicious but not intentional and, as such, pardonable for vindicating a right cause. The insured owner of the vehicle filed his objection to the above petition stating that for condonation of the delay, there was no sufficient cause. In para 5 of the objection, he stated that the fact that the petitioner had lost his daughter was admitted. That it was a sad occurrence was also admitted, but the time between her death and the filing of this petition was beyond condonation, because the petitioner was doing his usual daily life work since her death. There was no specific denial about the mental condition of the appellants before and after the death of the daughter on July 12, 1976. The first appellant had to collect the requisite information for filing the claim petition and in the process, the delay was caused and it was conspicuous but not intentional and, as such, pardonable for a right cause. The insurer also filed objection where, inter alia, it was stated that paras 2 and 3 of the condonation petition were vague and did not disclose as to the period when his daughter was lying ill and no sufficient cause was shown which prevented the petitioner from lodging the claim within time. It may be noted that the appellant in his affidavit clearly stated about his mental condition and the time taken for collecting information for filing the claim petition and those statements were not denied. It is now seen that the daughter died on July 12, 1976, and the claim petition was filed only on January 3, 1978. The mental condition at that time, and the time required for collection of the information, have not been denied. The learned Tribunal on the basis of the above facts rejected the prayer for condonation.

2. Learned counsel for the respondents do not deny that the appellants had a right to get their claim considered by the Tribunal according to law. Their objection is only on the ground of delay. There is no objection ' as regards jurisdiction in this appeal.

3. Under Sub-section (3) of Section 110Aof the Act, no application for compensation under that section shall be entertained unless it is made within six months of the occurrence of the accident:

Provided that the Claims Tribunal may entertain the application after the expiry of the said period if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time. It is accepted that the expression ' sufficient cause ' for the purpose of this section is not to be given a narrow construction treating it on par with the words used in section 5 of the Limitation Act, as was held in Sannehalamma v. State of Mysore [1974] ACJ 24 (Kar) and Krishenlal Trikha v. Jupiter General Insurance Co. [1977] ACJ 339 (J & K). The reason is obvious.

4. The Motor Vehicles Act providing for compensation for accidents is a beneficial piece of legislation and the statutory benefit conferred on the claimant should not be refused to the person who deserved it and was not wilfully out of time in filing the claim petition. But at the same time, the Tribunal is not to entertain such claim petition as is filed after inordinate delay. The Tribunal, therefore, has to consider the entire facts and circumstances including the physical and mental condition of the claimant which affected his filing of the claim petition (in time). In Hemalata Devi v. Sk. Lok-man [1973] ACJ 257; AIR 1974 Orissa 24, following Pijush Kanti Ghosh v. Maya Rani Chatterjee [1971] ACJ 267 ; AIR 1971 Cal 229 and Kulbir Chand v. Bahadur Chand [1970] ACJ 175 (Delhi), it has been held that the proviso under Section 110A(3) should be liberally construed so that the legislative intention may be given effect to. The strictness with which an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act is dealt with cannot be the standard by which exercise of discretion under the proviso to Section 110A(3) of the Act has to be regulated. 'Sufficient cause' means some cause beyond the control of the party and for successfully invoking the aid of the court, the claimant must have acted with due care and attention. In that case, it had been established as alleged by the claimant that she was suffering from fever and sciatica diseases and was unable to move about and had been confined to bed for about two years and under these circumstances it was held that the delay in filing the claim application should be condoned. So also in A. Harsha v. Rai v. Dr. K. V. Kama [1973] ACJ 57 ; AIR 1973 Mys 162, it had been held that the Limitation Act has no application to an application under Section 110A and the period fixed for filing an application under that section is subject to its being extended in suitable cases at the discretion of the Tribunal if sufficient cause is shown. When a person is mentally afflicted, normal care and caution may not be expected of him and, under such circumstances, his petition should not be thrown out.

5. Applying the above guidelines, we find that in the instant case, appellant had to run from Gauhati to Delhi and to Vellore to save the life of their most beloved daughter who ultimately died on July 12, 1976, by which date the period of six months had already expired. Thereafter, the first appellant has stated in the petition supported by affidavit that life became mechanical and even so he tried to collect the information necessary for filing the claim petition and in the process, the delay was caused. It is natural that for the claimant it would be more difficult to collect' the information at that time than what would have been immediately after the accident. These specific statements have not been denied by the respondents. No doubt, the insured owner of the vehicle stated that the cause shown was not sufficient. But the specific statements have not been denied and they did in no way traverse the statements made in the affidavit by the first appellant. What could not be sufficient cause for a normal person could be sufficient for a mentally afflicted person in appropriate cases.

6. Mr. S. C. Das, learned counsel for the appellant, submits that the statement made in the affidavit having not been controverted by the respondents, the learned Tribunal ought to have allowed the application for condonation of delay. Mr. K. C. Das, learned counsel appearing for the owner of the vehicle, and Mr. A. K. Choudhury, learned counsel appearing for the insurance company, submit that the delay has not been sufficiently explained. But, they have not traversed the statement that the delay was never intentional.

7. The appellants have the right to get their claim for compensation considered, according to law, and for the ends of justice in view of the circumstances stated, the delay according to us should have been condoned, We accordingly set aside the impugned order, condone the delay, allow the appeal and remand the claim petition to the Claims Tribunal for disposal according to law after giving opportunity to the parties to adduce evidence, if they so decide. We, however, pass no order as to costs. The parties shall appear before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Now-gong, on 28th day of August, 1984, to obtain necessary orders. Send down the records forthwith.


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