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Oriental Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd. and ors. Vs. Ghanshyam Das - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal from Order No. 73 of 1975
Judge
Reported in[1983]54CompCas864(All)
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110A(3); Limitation Act, 1963 - Sections 5, 6, 6(1) and 29(2)
AppellantOriental Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd. and ors.
RespondentGhanshyam Das
Appellant AdvocateA.B. Saran, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateA.N. Bhargava and ;G.P. Bhargava, Advs.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
- - 9. however, in this case, undoubtedly on the date of the accident, the claimant was a minor and under the provisions of section 110a(3) of the motor vehicles act, the tribunal can entertain a claim petition even after the expiry of the period prescribed under the act, if the tribunal is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for the claimant not to present the claim petition within the time allowed......the road near the tank of talbahat, he saw that a bus was coming from the opposite side. at that time, ghanshyam das tried to cross the road and ran from right to his left side. he deposed that his bus was at a distance of 10 to 15 paces from ghanshyam das. he sounded the horn and used the brakes but even then, the boy collided with the bus. he also deposed that he lodged a report and took the boy to the hospital. in the written statement filed by purshottam das, there is no reference to another bus coming from the opposite direction. it is only in his oral statement that this story has been set up for the first time, the witnesses produced on behalf of the claimant are independent witnesses. the claimant himself, though a young boy, has stood the test of a cross-examination. we are in.....
Judgment:

B.N. Sapku, J.

1. This appeal filed by the Oriental Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd. arises out of a claim petition filed by Ghanshyam Das, a minor, through his father, Sita Ram, as next friend, on September 2, 1972.

2. The claim petition was filed on the allegations that Ghanshyam Das was returning to his house at about 10.00 a.m. on February 14, 1971, near Talbahat, after taking a bath in the tank. He was moving an Thanri-Lalitpur road towards Jhansi, when bus No. USG 2474, driven by Purshottam Das, came from behind. As a result of rash and negligent driving on the part of Purshottam Das, the bus hit Ghansyam Das and he was run over. The consequence of the injuries sustained by Ghanshyam Das was that his right leg had to be amputated. The claimant claimed Rs. 50,000 as compensation.

3. This claim petition was contested by Munna Lal, the owner of the bus, Purshottam -Das, the driver of the bus, and the appellant-insurance company. They all claimed that the accident was (not ?) due to rashness and negligence on the part of the driver of the vehicle but due to the claimant himself. It was also pleaded that the claim petition was barred by time. The compensation was also claimed to have been excessive.

4. The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal found that the accident was due to the rashness and negligence on the part of the driver of the vehicle. It further held that the claim petition was not barred by time as Section 5 of the Limitation Act was applicable and the delay in filing the claim petition could be condoned. The Tribunal assessed the compensation payable to the claimant at Rs. 18,000.

5. Aggrieved, the insurance company alone has come up in appeal.

6. The claimant produced himself as PW-4 and also Chaturbhuj, PW-1, and Bal Mukund, PW-2. The consistent evidence of all these witnesses is that the bus which was being driven at a high speed, came from behind and knocked down Ghanshyam Das. The driver of the vehicle, Purushottam Das, entered the witness box. He was examined as DW-1. According to him, he was driving the bus from Lalitpur. When the bus reached the turn of the road near the tank of Talbahat, he saw that a bus was coming from the opposite side. At that time, Ghanshyam Das tried to cross the road and ran from right to his left side. He deposed that his bus was at a distance of 10 to 15 paces from Ghanshyam Das. He sounded the horn and used the brakes but even then, the boy collided with the bus. He also deposed that he lodged a report and took the boy to the hospital. In the written statement filed by Purshottam Das, there is no reference to another bus coming from the opposite direction. It is only in his oral statement that this story has been set up for the first time, The witnesses produced on behalf of the claimant are independent witnesses. The claimant himself, though a young boy, has stood the test of a cross-examination. We are in agreement with the Tribunal that the accident occurred because of the rash and negligent driving by the bus driver.

7. It is next urged that since the accident took place on February 14, 1971, whereas the claim petition was filed on September 2, 1972, almost 18 months after the accident, the claim petition was barred by time as the limitation for filing a claim petition is six months. The Tribunal held, relying on certain cases referred to in the judgment, that, in view of the provisions of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act, the petitioner was entitled to the benefit of Section 6(1) of the Limitation Act as on the date of the accident, the claimant was a minor. The learned counsel for the appellant submits ihat this view of the Tribunal is patently erroneous in law. In this connection, he relied upon a Full Bench decision in the case of Surendra Kumar Goel v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal [1979] All LR 599. In that case, two questions referred to the Full Bench were:

' 1. Whether Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963, would, by virtue of Section 29(2) of the said Act, apply to a revision filed before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal under the Motor Vehicles Act beyond the period of limitation prescribed for filing it ?

2. If the provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act are not applicable, will the principle contained in the said Section apply to a revision filed as referred to in question No. 1 '

8. The court held that the State Transport Appellate Tribunal was not a court and Section 5 of the Limitation Act only applied to the proceedings in a court and not to the proceedings before a Tribunal. The Full Bench further held that the provisions of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act did not have the effect of attracting Section 5 of the Limitation Act to the proceedings before a State Transport Appellate Tribunal. On the basis of this authority, it is urged that the Tribunal is not a court and, as such, Sections 5 and 6 of the Limitation Act, would not apply to the proceedings before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. In view of the Full Bench decision, it must follow that the Tribunal is not a civil court and, as such, the provisions of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act do not have the effect of attracting Sections 5 and 6 of the Limitation Act to the proceedings before it.

9. However, in this case, undoubtedly on the date of the accident, the claimant was a minor and under the provisions of Section 110A(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, the Tribunal can entertain a claim petition even after the expiry of the period prescribed under the Act, if the Tribunal is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for the claimant not to present the claim petition within the time allowed. The claimant was a minor, being aged about 10 or 11 years, when the accident took place and if his father did not file the claim petition within time, he was not to blame. The minority of the claimant was continuing when the claim petition was presented. It could have been presented by the claimant after attaining majority, within six months of the date on which he attained majority. It would be anomalous to hold that a claim petition could not be presented during the continuance of the minority but it can be so presented after the minority came to an end. Thus, we hold that the claim petition was rightly entertained by the Tribunal even though on a wrong view of the law.

10. The amount awarded by the Claims Tribunal as compensation can, by no stretch of imagination, be treated as excessive, in view of the fact that the claimant-respondent had his right leg amputated as a result of the accident.

11. In the result, we find that there is no merit in this appeal which is accordingly dismissed with costs.


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