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Revanappa Vs. Gunderao and ors Etc. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles;Civil
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petition Nos. 780 and 781 of 1981
Judge
Reported inAIR1983Kant164; 1983(1)KarLJ361
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110, 110(1), 110-C, 110-CCC, 110-C(2) and 110-F; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 9 and 115
AppellantRevanappa
RespondentGunderao and ors Etc.
Appellant AdvocateShivraj Patil, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateM.M. Jahagirdhar and ;B. Chikkeurs, Advs.
Excerpt:
- - it provides that any court or claims tribunal adjudicating upon any claim for compensation under this act, may in any case, where it is satisfied for reason to be recorded by it in writing that (i) .(ii) .such court or tribunal may make an order for the payment. thus, these provisions contained in the act, clearly go to indicate that the parliament intended to create a special tribunal with limited jurisdiction. the constitution recognised a hierarchy of courts and to their adjudication are normally entrusted all disputes between citizens and citizens as well as between the citizens and the state. but the authority to reach decisions conferred on such administrative bodies is clearly distinct and separate from the judicial power conferred on courts, and the decisions pronounced by.....order1. these two civil revision petitions are preferred against the order dated 12-8-1980 passed by the motor accident claims tribunal, bidar, in m. v. c. nos. 7 and 8 of 1979 rejecting the applications filed by the petitioner for amendment of the objections.2. it is contended by sri m. m. jagirdar, learned counsel for the contesting respondents, that the motor accident claims tribunal (hereinafter referred to as 'claims tribunal' constituted under section 110 of the motor vehicles act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as 'the act') is a tribunal and it is not a 'court' subordinate to the high court; therefore, the jurisdiction of the high court under section 115 of the code of civil procedure (for short, 'the code') cannot be either invoked or exercised. the learned counsel has, in support.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. These two civil revision petitions are preferred against the order dated 12-8-1980 passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Bidar, in M. V. C. Nos. 7 and 8 of 1979 rejecting the applications filed by the petitioner for amendment of the objections.

2. It is contended by Sri M. M. Jagirdar, learned counsel for the contesting respondents, that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as 'Claims Tribunal' constituted under Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') is a Tribunal and it is not a 'Court' subordinate to the High Court; therefore, the jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure (For short, 'the Code') cannot be either invoked or exercised. The learned Counsel has, in support of his contention, placed reliance on the following decisions:

(1) (1973) 2 Mys LJ 473 : (AIR 1974 Kant 109), (State of Mysore v. K. L. Subbanna); (2) AIR 1974 Raj 55 (Laximinarain Misra v. Kailash Narain Gupta); (3) (Rajasthan Road Transport Corporation, Jaipur v. Kalawati); (4) AIR 1968 Goa 78 (Branch Manager, The British India Gen. Insurance Co., Ltd. v. Chandi Shaikh Abdulkadar); (5) : [1962]2SCR339 (Harinagar Sugar Mills v. Shyam Sundar); (6) : (1965)ILLJ433SC (Associated Cement Companies Ltd., v. P. N. Sharma); (7) 1980 Acc CJ 287 (Ker) Beeran v. Rajappan; (8) 1966 Acc CJ 37 (Bom) Mrs. Khairunnissa A. K. Saddiki v. Municipal Corporation, Bombay).

It is further submitted by Sri Jagirdar that this Court has already decided that 'Claims Tribunal' is a Tribunal and not a Court; therefore, the Civil revision petitions are not maintainable.

3. On the contrary, it is contended by Sri Shivaraj Patil, learned Counsel for the petitioner in both the civil revision petitions, that in the earlier decision of this Court reported in (1973) 2 Mys LJ 473 : (AIR 1974 Kant 109) (State of Mysore v. K. L. Subbanna), no reasons are contained and the decisions of the other High Court in which a contrary view is expressed have also not been brought to the notice of the Court, therefore, the question requires to be reconsidered. It is further submitted that though the authority is called 'Motor Accident Claims Tribunal', but nevertheless, it exercise and performs judicial powers and functions and it exercises all the powers of a civil court for the purpose of taking evidence, and it has got the authority to adjudicate finally the claims for compensation falling under its purview and as such, it has got all the strapping of a civil court; therefore it is a civil court and not a Tribunal. It is also further submitted that Claims Tribunal apart from being a Civil Court is also a court subordinate to the High Court, inasmuch as the appellate jurisdiction is exercised by the High Court as an appeal lies to the High Court against an award of a Claims Tribunal; hence, the jurisdiction under Section 115 of the Code, can be exercised. In support of these contentions, the learned counsel has placed reliance on the following decisions:

(1) (FB) (Shanti Devi v. General Manager, Haryana Roadways); (2) 1971 Acc CJ 156 (Cal) (Hukam Chand Insurance Co. Ltd., v. Suhashini Roy); (3) 1971 Acc CJ 367 (Delhi) (Eagle Star Insurance Co. Ltd v. L. V. Kumar); (4) : AIR1972MP125 (Krishna Gopal v. Dattatrya); (5) 1975 Acc CJ 433 (Guj) (Kishan Chand Wadhumal v. K. M. Satwani); (6) AIR 1978 Punj & Har 265 (Smt. Darshana Devi v. Sher Singh); (7) : AIR1970Bom278 (Smt. Rajiyabi Cosman Sayi v. Mackinon Machinazie & Co. (P) Ltd.) : : [1970]1SCR322 (Shankar Ramchandra Abhyankar v. Krishnaji Dattatraya Bapat)

4. Having regard to the aforesaid contentions, the points that arise for consideration are :

(1) Whether a decision of this Court reported in (1973) 2 Mys LJ 473 : (AIR 1974 Kant 109), requires reconsideration?

(2) Whether a Claims Tribunal is a Court subordinate to the High Court, for the purpose of Section 115 of the Civil P. C.?

5. I will not take up both the points together.

6. At the outset, it is necessary to notice the decision of the Court in the case of State of Mysore v. K. L. Subbanna, reported in (1973) 2 Mys LJ 473 : (AIR 1974 Kant 109), which is as follows:

'The revision is brought on behalf of the State of Mysore against the order of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Chitradurga. By the order under revision, the Presiding Officer of the Claims Tribunal has held that the application filed by the State was not maintainable and also it was barred my limitation.

2. It is not shown before me how a CRP is maintainable. The claims Tribunal ex facie is not a Court subordinate to the High Court so as to maintain the revision petition under Section 115, Civil P. C.

3. Civil Revision Petition is therefore dismissed as being not maintainable.

4. No costs.'

7.1. Sub-Section (1) of Section 110 of the Act, which has been substituted by Act No. 100 of 1956 which has come into force on 16-2-1957 empowers a State Government to constitute one or more Claims Tribunals for such area as may be specified in the notification. Prior to constitution of Claims Tribunal the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving death of, or bodily injury to, persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles, was exercised by a Civil Court.

7.2. There is sufficient internal evidence contained in the statute itself which is indicative of the fact that a Claims Tribunal constituted under the Act, is a Tribunal and it is not a Civil Court. Reference to various relevant provisions contained in Chapter VIII of the Act, makes it clear that the statute has intended to create a special Tribunal to adjudicate upon claims for compensation falling under sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act, and not to create another set of Civil Court in addition to the ones already existing. It is not a case of creating a special jurisdiction, but it is a case of taking away the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in respect of claims falling under sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act, and entrusting the same to a special Tribunal known an 'Motor Accident Claims Tribunal'. Proviso to subsection (1) of Section 110 of the Act, further provides that where the claims includes a claim for compensation in respect of damage to property exceeding Rs. 2,000/- the claimant may, at his option, refer the claim to a Civil Court for adjudication, and where a reference is so made, the Claims Tribunal shall have no jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to such claim. Thus, the Act itself while conferring jurisdiction on a Claims Tribunal in respect of the claims for compensation falling under sub-section (1) of Sec, 110 of the Act, has maintained a distinction between a Claims Tribunal and a Civil Court by retaining the jurisdiction of a Civil Court in respect of the Claims falling under the proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act.

7.3. Proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act, is indicative of the fact that the Parliament intended to create a special Tribunal known as 'Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal' to exercise the jurisdiction which was till then exercised by a Civil Court and it is because of this, where a claim for compensation falls under the proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act, if the claimant refers such a claim to a Civil Court, the jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunal to that extent is barred. Similarly Section 110-C(2) of the Act provides that the Claims Tribunal shall have all the powers of a Civil Court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath and of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and of compelling the discovery and production of document and material objects and for such other purposes as may be prescribed; and the Claims Tribunal shall be deemed to be a Civil Court for all purposes. Thus, from this provision also, it is clear that Claims Tribunal is not a Civil Court and it is because of this, it is specifically empowered to exercise the powers of a Civil Court. If really it were to be a Civil Court, it was not at all necessary to make such a specific provision in the Act, in as much as even in the absence of such a specific provision, the provisions contained in the code, would have been available.

7.4. Section 110-CCC of the Act, also maintains a distinction between a Claims Tribunal and a Civil Court. It provides that any Court or Claims Tribunal adjudicating upon any claim for compensation under this Act, may in any case, where it is satisfied for reason to be recorded by it in writing that (I) ........... (ii) .............. such Court or Tribunal may make an order for the payment...........Sub-section (2) thereof further provides that no Court or Claims Tribunal shall pass an order for special costs under sub-section (1) for any amount exceeding rupees one thousand. Similarly in Section 110-F of the Act, it is provided that where any Claims Tribunal has been constituted for any area, no Civil Court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to any claim for compensation which may be adjudicated upon by the Claims Tribunal for that area, and no injunction in respect of any action taken or to be taken by or before the Claims Tribunal in respect of the Claims for compensation shall be granted by the Civil Court. Section 111-A(c) enables the State Government to make Rules as to which of the powers vested in a Civil Court may be exercised by a Claims Tribunal. Thus, these provisions contained in the Act, clearly go to indicate that the Parliament intended to create a special Tribunal with limited jurisdiction. Accordingly, it has maintained a distinction between a Civil Court and a Claims Tribunal and wherever the jurisdiction is given to a Claims Tribunal, Civil Court's jurisdiction is ousted and is left with the Civil Court, jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunal to that extent is barred. Therefore, there is a definite indication in the Act itself for holding that a Claims Tribunal constituted under the Act, is a Tribunal having special jurisdiction and it cannot be regarded to be a Civil Court. In A. C. Companies v. P. N. Sharma reported in : (1965)ILLJ433SC , the Supreme Court has stated in clear terms the distinction between a Tribunal and a Civil Court. The relevant portions of the judgment are as follows (Para 7):

'The expression 'Court' in the context denotes a tribunal constituted by the State as a part of the ordinary hierarchy of Courts which are invested with the State's inherent judicial powers. A sovereign State discharges legislative, executive and judicial functions and can legitimately claim corresponding powers which are described as legislature, executive and judicial powers. Under our Constitution, the judicial functions and powers of the State are primarily conferred on the ordinary Courts which have been constituted under its relevant provisions. The Constitution recognised a hierarchy of Courts and to their adjudication are normally entrusted all disputes between citizens and citizens as well as between the citizens and the State. These Courts can be described as ordinary Courts of Civil judicature. They are governed by their prescribed rules of procedure and they deal with questions of fact and law raised before them by adopting a process which is described as judicial process. The powers which these Courts exercise, are judicial powers, the functions they discharge are judicial functions and the decisions they reach and pronounces are judicial decisions.'

'8. In every State there are administrative bodies or authorities which are required to deal with matters within their jurisdiction in an administrative manner and their decisions are described as administrative decisions. In reaching their administrative decisions, administrative bodies can and often do take into consideration questions of policy. It is not unlikely that even in this process of reaching administrative decisions, the administrative bodies or authorities are required to act fairly and objectively and would in many cases have to follow the principles of natural justice; but the authority to reach decisions conferred on such administrative bodies is clearly distinct and separate from the judicial power conferred on Courts, and the decisions pronounced by administrative bodies are similarly distinct and separate in character from judicial decisions pronounced by Courts.

9. Tribunals which fall within the purview of Article 136(1) occupy a special position of their own order the scheme of our Constitution. Special matters and questions are entrusted to them for their decision and in that sense, they share with the Courts one common characteristic; both the Courts and the tribunals are 'constituted by the State and are invested with judicial as distinguished from purely administrative or executive functions'. (vide Durga Shankar Mehta v. Raghuraj Singh : [1955]1SCR267 . They are both adjudicating bodies and they deal with and finally determine disputes between parties which are entrusted to their jurisdiction. The procedure followed by the Courts is regularly prescribed and in discharging their functions and exercising their powers, the Courts have to conform to that procedure. The procedure which the tribunals have to follow may not always be so strictly prescribed, but the approach adopted by both the Courts and the tribunals is substantially the same, and there is no essential difference between the functions that they discharge. As in the case of Courts, so in the case of tribunals, it is the State's inherent judicial power which has been transferred and by virtue of the said power, it is the State's inherent judicial function which they discharge. Judicial functions and judicial powers are one of the essential attributes of a sovereign State, and on considerations of policy, the State transfers its judicial functions and powers mainly to the Courts established by the Constitution; but that does not affect the competence of the State, by appropriate measures, to transfer a part of its judicial powers and functions to tribunals by entrusting to them the task of adjudicating upon special matters and disputes between parties. It is really not possible or even expedient to attempt to describe exhaustively the features which are common to the tribunals and the Courts and features which are distinct and separate. The basic and the fundamental feature which is common to both the Courts and the tribunals is that they discharge judicial functions and exercise judicial powers which inherently vest in a sovereign State.'

Thus in the aforesaid decision, it has been categorically laid down that though the judicial powers and functions are one of the essential attributes of a sovereign State and the State transfers its judicial powers and functions mainly to the Courts established by the Constitution; but, nevertheless, under our Constitution, there is no prohibition from entrusting the judicial powers and functions of the State to any other authority other than the Courts. In para 30 of the judgment, it has been held by the Supreme Court, as follows:

'30. ......... ......... ......... ......... ......... ......... ......... ......... .......... ............ ......... The use of the expression 'Judicial power' in the context, cannot be characterised as constitutionally impermissible or inappropriate, because our Constitution does not provide, as does Chapter III of the Australian Constitution, that judicial power can be conferred only on Courts properly so-called. If such a consideration was relevant and material, then it would no doubt, be inappropriate to say that certain authorities or bodies which are given the power to deal with disputes between parties and finally determine them, are tribunals because the judicial power of the State has been statutorily transferred to them. In that case, the more appropriate expression to use would be that the powers which they exercise are quasi-judicial in character, and tribunals appointed under such a scheme of rigid separation of powers cannot be held to discharge the same judicial function as the Courts. However, these considerations are, strictly speaking, inapplicable to the Indian Constitution, because though it is based on a broad separation of powers, there is no rigidity or exclusiveness involved in it as under S. 17 as well as other provisions of Ch. III of the Australian Constitution; and so, it would not be inappropriate to say that the main test in determining the status of any authority in the context of Art. 136(1) is whether or not inherent judicial power of the State has been transferred to it.'

7.5. This question was again considered by the Supreme Court, in the case of All Party Hill Leaders' Conference, Shillong v. Captain W. A. Sangma, reported in : [1978]1SCR393 . Referring to the previous decisions including the one reported in : (1965)ILLJ433SC of the judgment it was held as follows :

'From a conspectus of the above decisions it will be seen that several tests have been laid, down by this Court to determine whether a particular body or authority is a Tribunal within the ambit of Art. 136. The tests are not exhaustive in all cases. It is also well settled that all the tests laid down may not be present in a given case. While some tests may be present others may be lacking. It is, however, absolutely necessary that the authority in order to come within the ambit of Art. 136(1) as tribunal must be constituted by the State and invested with some function of judicial power of the State.'

Again in the case of Commissioner of Income Tax, Calcutta v. B. N. Bhattacharjee, reported in : [1979]118ITR461(SC) , after referring to the decision in A. C. Companies' case : (1965)ILLJ433SC , the same view has been reiterated.

7.6. Thus, it is clear that merely because an authority or a body is entrusted with the judicial powers and functions of the State and is having some of the attributes of a civil court, by itself, will not be a determining factor to hold that such a body or authority is a Court, in the strict sense of the term falling within the hierarchy of courts established under the Constitution. In fact, one of the tests to find out whether a particular authority is a tribunal, one has to see whether that authority is, by law, entrusted with some judicial powers and functions of the State. The striking distinction between a tribunal and a civil court is that, in the case of a tribunal a special jurisdiction is concerned under a special enactments to perform and exercise some of the judicial functions and powers of the State; whereas in the case of a civil court, it enjoys all the judicial powers and functions of the State concerning the causes of civil nature except where its jurisdiction is specially taken away (vide Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Therefore, the claims tribunal cannot be held to be a civil court falling within the hierarchy of courts which have been invested with the State's inherent judicial powers. The claims Tribunal being a special tribunal having exclusive jurisdiction, it cannot also be held to be a court subordinate to the High Court for the purpose of Sections 115 of C. P. C., merely on the ground that an appeal lies to the High Court against an award, passed by it.

8.1. It has already been pointed out that this Court, in the case of State of Mysore v. K. L. Subbanna, reported in (1973) 2 Mys LJ 473 : (AIR 1974 Kant 109), has held in categorical terms that the Claims Tribunal ex facie is not a court subordinate to the High Court, so as to maintain a revision under Section 115 of the Code. A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court, in the case of Beeran v. Rajappan, reported in 1980 ACC CJ 287, after referring to the aforesaid decision of the Supreme Court, reported in A. C. Companies' case : (1965)ILLJ433SC and also the decision in Harinagar Sugar Mills Ltd's case : [1962]2SCR339 , a Division Bench and a Full Bench decisions of the Bombay High Court, in Khairunnissa v. Municipal Corporation, Bombay (1966 ACC CJ 37) and in S. D. Ghatge v. State of Maharashtra : AIR1977Bom384 (FB) respectively, has held that the claims tribunal constituted under Section 110 of the Act, is neither a Court not a court subordinate to the High Court and as such, the revision petition has been held to be not maintainable. Relevant portion of the judgment is as follows:

'The Civil Court and the Tribunal both are vested with judicial powers of the State. But that does not mean that both are the same. The Constitution does not define 'court' or 'tribunal'. The Code of Civil Procedure also does not contain a definition. But the indication in the preamble to the Code is that in it is consolidated the laws relating to the procedure of the Courts of Civil judicature. Courts of civil judicature can only be ordinary civil of the land. In one sense, all courts are tribunals. But all tribunals will not be courts, courts in the strict sense. It is the judicial power of the State that is exercised by a Court and a tribunal. But there is one difference. A Court ( a civil court) has judicial power of the State to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits the cognizance of which is expressly or impliedly barred. But on the other hand, judicial power is statutorily conferred on a Tribunal to deal with special matters. It will have some of the trappings of a Court, but that by itself will not make it one among the hierarchy of courts established under the Constitution. If a Court and a tribunal are one and the same, there is no reason why the Constitution makes a distinction. The relevant provisions in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 also give sufficient indication that a Claims Tribunal constituted under Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act is not a civil court. The act shuts out the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts. The Claims Tribunal is deemed to be a Civil Court for certain purposes. Some of the provisions in the Civil Procedure Code are made applicable to the Claims Tribunals. So the only possible conclusion is that a Claims Tribunal is not a Court. To attract the jurisdiction under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure two conditions must be satisfied. Firstly, the order must be that of a court and secondly that the court must be a Court subordinate to the High Court. So, we hold that the order of the Claims Tribunal impugned in this Civil Revision Petition is not amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of this Court.'

8.2. The view expressed by me in the earlier para and also in the earlier decision of this Court in State of Mysore v. K. L. Subbanna' case (AIR 1974 Kant 109), accords with the view expressed by the High Court of Kerala in Beeran's case (1980 ACC CJ 287). This is also the view taken by the High Courts of Bombay, Rajasthan, Punjab (1966 ACC CJ 172) (Punj), Allahabad (1971 ACC CJ 180) (All) and the Judicial Commissioner's Court, Goa.

9.1. As it is already stated Sri Shivraj Patil, learned Counsel for the petitioner, has placed reliance on a Full Bench decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court reported in (Shanti Devi v. General Manager, Haryana Roadways). In that decision, the question as to whether a claims tribunal constituted under the Act, is a Court, is not one of the questions referred to a Full Bench. The question referred to a Full Bench is as follows (at p. 72) :-

'Does an appeal lie under Clause 10 of the Letters Patent against the decision of a learned single Judge in appeal filed against the award of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal given under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939?'

While answering this question in the affirmative, the question as to whether a claims Tribunal constituted under the Act, is a Court or not, has also been considered and it has been held as follows:- (at p. 72)

'The proceedings before the claims Tribunal closely resemble the proceedings in a civil Court and to use the language of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Jugal Kishore's case : 1967CriLJ1380a , the Claims Tribunal for all intents and purposes discharges the same functions and duties in the same manner as a Court of law is expected to do. In this view of the matter I hold, that the proceedings before the Claims Tribunal are not in the nature of arbitration proceedings and that the Claims Tribunal while disposing of the claims acts as a Court.'

There is no doubt that the Claims Tribunal discharges the judicial powers and function of the State as are conferred upon it by the Act. In that way, it can be said to exercise powers and functions of a Court, but it cannot be regarded, an it is already pointed out, a court of civil judicature of the land in the strict sense of the term established under the Constitution. In Shantidevi's case, the aforesaid decision of the Supreme Court in A. C. Companies' case : (1965)ILLJ433SC has also not been considered. Further, it has not been held in the said decision that the claims tribunal is a civil court falling within the hierarchy of courts invested with the State's inherent judicial powers. Further, the distinction between a tribunal with limited jurisdiction and a civil court, as it is already pointed out, has also not been taken into consideration. Therefore, with great respect, it is not possible to agree with the view expressed in Shantidevi's case.

It is however submitted by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the decision in Shantidevi's case has been relied upon by the same High Court in Smt. Darshanadevi's case (AIR 1978 Punj & Har 265) for the purpose of holding that the provisions of Order 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure, will apply to the proceedings before the claims Tribunal as it has the same status as that of a court, and the decision in Darshandevi's case has, in turn, been affirmed by the Supreme Court in State of Haryana v. Smt. Darshana Devi. : [1979]3SCR184 ; therefore the decision in Shantidevi's case must be held to have been affirmed by the Supreme Court. It is not possible to accept this submission. No doubt, the decision in Shantidevi's case has been relied upon in Smt. Darshana Devi's case and on the basis of that decision it has been held that the claims tribunal performing functions under the Act, has more or less the same status as that of a court and performs functions similar to it. It is also true that a special leave petition filed by the State of Punjab and Haryana against the decision in Darshan Devi's case has been dismissed by the Supreme Court vide : [1979]3SCR184 . But the decision in Darshana Devi's case has not been affirmed by the Supreme Court on the ground that it holds that a claims tribunal is a Court but on the ground that the provisions of Order 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure will apply to Tribunals which have the trappings of the civil court. The relevant portion of the judgment is as follows (at p. 856) :

'2. The poor shall not be priced out of the justice market by insistence on court-fee and refusal to apply the exemptive provisions of Order XXXIII, C. P. C. So we are distressed that the State of Haryana, mindless of the mandate of equal justice to the indigent under the Magna Carta of our Republic expressed in Article 14 and stressed in Art. 39A of the Constitution, has sought leave to appeal against the order of the High Court which has rightly extended the 'pauper' provisions to auto-accident claims. The reasoning of the High Court in holding that Orders XXXIII will apply to tribunals which have the trapping of the civil court finds our approval. We affirm the decision.

Therefore, this contention also is negatived.

9.2. It is sufficient to mention that in the case of Hukumchand Insurance Company Ltd., reported in 1971 ACC CJ 156 (Cal), on which a reliance is placed on behalf of the petitioner, the question as to whether a claims Tribunals can be held to be a Civil Court, has not been considered.

9.3. Reliance has also been placed on a decision of the High Court of Delhi, in 1971 Acc CJ 367 (Eagle Star Insurance Company Ltd. v. L. V. Kumar) in which it has been held that a Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal is very much like a civil court and the proceedings before it are a special method of enforcing and recovering the claim entirely different from Industrial Tribunals hearing reference under the Industrial Disputes Act. But, ultimately, as it is clear from para-14 of the judgment, the question as to whether a claims tribunal is a civil court has been left open and the court has exercised the jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution. Therefore, the aforesaid decision also cannot be considered to have laid down that a claims tribunal is a court.

9.4. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has also placed reliance on a decision of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, reported in : AIR1972MP125 (Krishan Gopal v. Dattatrya). On a difference of opinion which arose between Sen. J. and Raina, J. who constituted a Division Bench, the case came to be referred to a third Judge - Bhave, J., who was of the opinion that the claims tribunal constituted under Section 110 of the Act, was a civil court and also a court subordinate to the High Court. This conclusion has been arrived at on the basis of the two earlier decisions of the same Court in Radhabai Bhikaji's case reported in 1970 ACC CJ 403 and in Hayath Khan's case reported in : AIR1971MP140 . The relevant portion of the judgment is as follows : (at p. 128)

'In fact, at least in two Division Bench cases of this Court it has been held that the Claims Tribunal is a 'Civil Court'. The decisions are : (I) Radha Bai v. Baluram Daluram (1970 ACC CJ 403) and (ii) Hayatkhan v. Mangilal : AIR1971MP140 . In Radhabai's case it was held by the Division Bench that a 'civil court' includes any court competent to notice the injury and grant compensation and that the Claims Tribunal was a Civil Court. In Hayatkhan's case, another Bench held that a claims petition under Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act is a petition which for all material purposes is like a plaint pertaining to the dispute ordinarily triable in a Civil Court and the Division Bench therefore applied Section 6 of the Limitation Act in the case of claim proceeding also. On similar reasoning, in Balubhai v. Mahila Sarjubai (1967 ACC CJ 232) (Madh Pra) it was held that the Claims Tribunal had the power to issue commission for examination of witnesses, though the power was not specifically given to the Tribunal. I, therefore, do not find any difficulty in holding that the Claims Tribunal is a 'Court of judicature'.'

In Radhabai Bhikaji's case (1970 ACC CJ 403) (Madh Pra) while considering the scope of Section 3(5) of the Workmen's Compensation Act, it was held as follows :-

'I would understand by a 'Civil Court' the same as 'any Court of law' used later on in the same sub-section. The word 'civil court' has not been defined in Section 2 of the Act, and the entire trend of Section 3(5) is towards prohibition of duplication of proceedings not merely in a Court functioning under the Civil Procedure Code or the local Civil Courts Act but 'any Court' competent to notice the injury and grant compensation, such as any statutory Tribunal, for example, the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. This section can certainly work hardship on occasions of the extreme kind; the claimant having started in some civil court and make the claim, he would be helpless in the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner's Courts where his suit or claim is dismissed by the other Court. The disqualification for proceeding in the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner's Court does not start when the claimant obtains compensation elsewhere, but starts the moment he moves another Court. Similarly, the disqualification to move any other Tribunal starts not when the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner awards compensation but the moment he is approached with a claim. At all events, the principle here is something even more drastic than what the Commissioner has applied in his order, the non-maintainability of claims in one alternative Tribunal if the other had been approached, looked at that way the order of the Commissioner was proper and is maintained.'

Thus, in this case, the question as to whether a Claims Tribunal can be held to be a Civil Court, as it is normally understood has not been considered.

In Hayatkhan's case also : AIR1971MP140 , the question as to whether a Claims Tribunal constituted, under the Act, can be considered to be a Civil Court, has not been considered. The relevant portion of the judgment is as follows: (at p. 142)

'9. A claim petition under Section 110 A of the Motor Vehicles Act may not technically be described as a plaint. But it is a petition which for all material purposes is like a plaint and it pertains to a dispute ordinarily triable in a civil court. As observed by the Bombay High Court in Khairunnissa v. Munpl. Corpn. Bombay (1966 Acc CJ 37), the word 'suit' is capable of having a very wide connotation and may include any legal proceedings commenced by one person against another in order to enforce a civil right. In this context also, it cannot be disputed that an application under Section 110A of the Motor Vehicles Act is a suit falling within the scope of the word 'suit' used in Section 6 of the Limitation Act, and consequently the application filed by him before the Claims Tribunal, Indore, is held to be within time.'

Thus, the two earlier decisions of the same Court, which have been relied upon in Krishna Gopal's case : AIR1972MP125 as laying down the proportion that a Claims Tribunal is a civil court, cannot be held to have laid, down any such proposition. In addition to this, in Krishna Gopal's case, the decision of the Supreme Court in A. C. Companies' case : (1965)ILLJ433SC has not been brought to the notice of the Court. Therefore, with great respect, I am not able to pursuade myself to agree with the decision in Krishna Gopal's case (1971 Acc CJ 372).

9.5. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has further relied upon a Division Bench decision of the High Court of Gujarat, reported in 1975 Acc CJ 433 (Kishan Chand Wadhumal v. K. M Satwani). No doubt, this decision proceeds on the basis that the Claims Tribunal is a Court because it has been so held in the earlier decisions of the same Court in Special C. A. No. 1599 of 1969 decided on 23-7-1970* and F. A. No. 280 of 1968 decided on 15/16th November, 1971. The material question for consideration in this decision was whether there was any condition precedent created by the Acts or the relevant Rules that no award should be drawn until the deficit court fee was first paid by the claimants. In view of the reasons already given by me, with great respect, I find it difficult to agree with the aforesaid decision in so far it proceeds on the basis that the Claims Tribunal is a Court.

10. Lastly, it is urged on behalf of the petitioner that the revisional jurisdiction is a part of the appellate jurisdiction and that as the High Court enjoys the appellate jurisdiction against an award passed by a claims tribunal, it becomes a court subordinate to the High Court; therefore the High Court is entitled to exercise the jurisdiction under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Reliance is also placed on a decision of the Supreme Court in Shankar Ramchand Abhyankar v. Krishnaji Dattatraya Bapat, reported in : [1970]1SCR322 , in support of this contention. It is not possible to accept this contention also. It has been already held that a claims tribunal constituted, under the Act, is not a civil court falling within the hierarchy of civil courts established under the Constitution and it is not a court subordinate to the High Court for the purpose of Section 115 of the C. P. Code. Further, the aforesaid decision of the Supreme Court also does not lay down that the revisional jurisdiction is a part of an appellate jurisdiction. What it lays down is that just as the appellate jurisdiction is part of the jurisdiction the superior Court to review the decisions of the inferior Court, the exercise of revisional jurisdiction also is done because it is a superior court and it can interfere for the purpose of rectifying the error or the Court below falling within the scope of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. It is one of the recognised modes of exercising jurisdiction by a superior court over the inferior courts and the effect of exercise of revisional jurisdiction, in one sense it can be said to be akin to the appellate jurisdiction, in that it also results in the merger of orders of inferior courts in those of the superior courts. Relevant portion of the judgment is as follows (at p. 4)

'6. Now when the aid of the High Court is invoked on the revisional side it is done because it is a superior Court and it can interfere for the purpose of rectifying the error of the Court below. Section 115 of the Code of Civil P. C. circumscribes the limits of that jurisdiction but the jurisdiction which is being exercised is a part of the general appellate jurisdiction of the High Court as a superior Court. It is only one of the modes of exercising power conferred by the Statute; basically and fundamentally it is the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court which is being invoked and exercised in a wider and larger sense. We do not therefore, consider that the principle of merger of orders of inferior courts in those of superior Courts would be effected or would become inapplicable by making a distinction between a petition for revision and an appeal.'

11. For the reasons stated above, both the points are answered against the petitioner. Accordingly, it is held that these civil revision petitions are not maintainable. In view of this, it is not necessary to go into the merits of the case, as it is open for the petitioners to challenge the correctness of the orders in question, in the appeal against the award of the Tribunal. The civil revision petitions are accordingly dismissed as not maintainable.

12. Revisions dismissed.


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