1. The short question in this appeal relates to the operation of the amendment effected to Section 95 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, by the Amending Act, 56 of 1969, which came into force on 2-3-1970.
2. By this amendment the upper limit of Rs. 20,000/- in all where the vehicle is registered to carry more than 30 but not more than 60 passengers which was imposed under Sub-section (2)(b)(ii) of Section 95 was raised to Rs. 50,000/- (SIC) with effect from 2-3-1970.
3. As a result of an accident to bus No. MRT 1998 which was carrying about 69 picnickers along G.B. Road on 25th October 1970. 7 persons died and another 8 were injured. claims were preferred before the Motor Accidents claims Tribunal for Greater Bombay, which awarded compensations. Respondent No. 1 Tayebali Alibhai Petiwala was awarded compensation of Rs. 7,000/- against the insurance company as well as others. Though the judgment does not make any mention about the apportionment of the liabilities between the insurance company and other respondents, the Roznama dated 18-2-1974 and the final award shows that the Insurance Company's liability was fixed at Rs. 2,000/- and the balance amount of Rs. 5,000/- was payable by the opposite parties. The learned Member has observed in his judgment that the extent of the liability of the Insurance Company under the policy is Rs. 20,000/- and not Rs. 50,000/- and this reason appears in the final award as well.
4. Mrs Mahimkar on behalf of the Appellants has gone hammer and tongs at the interpretation put up by the learned Member of the Tribunal regarding the effect of retrospective operation of a statute. She relies on Section 96(3) of the Act which makes the intention of the legislature clear. Under that Sub-section any conditions in the policy which purport to restrict the insurance of the persons as respects liabilityies that are covered by Clause (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 95 could be of no effect. The equities have been adjusted by the proviso to the Sub-section under which any sum paid by the insurer in or towards the discharge of any liability to any person which is covered by the policy by virtue only of this Sub-section shall be recoverable by the insurer from that person. Relying on this provision. Mrs. Mahimkar argues that as the accident took place on 6-3-1970 (SIC) i.e. after the day when the amendment effected by the amending Act of 56 of 1969 came into force, the Tribunal was in error in restricting the liability of the insurance company to Rs. 2,000/-, on the ground that the Insurance Company's total libility is Rs. 20,000/-.
5. The Insurance Company is unrepesented, but I find that there is much force in the argument advances by Mrs. Mahimkar and the Full Bench of Karnataka High Court, in a decision, in the case of S. Sanjiva Shetty v. Anantha and Ors. A.I.R. 1979 Kar 1, has put its imprimatur thereon.
6. In the result, the appeal succeeds and the Award is modified to the effect that the amount which shall be paid by the All India General Insurance Co. Ltd., shall be a sum of Rs. 5,000/- instead of Rs. 2,000/- as awarded by the Tribunal while the balance amount shall be read to be Rs. 2,000/- payable by the opposite party Nos. 1, 4 and 5 and 6 instead of Rs. 5,000/- as awarded by the Tribunal. Subject to this modification the other terms of the award remain unchanged. The Appellants' costs shall be borne by Respondent No. 2 Messrs. No AH India General Insurance Co. Ltd., Bombay 1.