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Deepchand Nayak Vs. Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, Bhopal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 575 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1977MP42
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110(1) and 110(2)
AppellantDeepchand Nayak
RespondentMadhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, Bhopal and ors.
Appellant AdvocateP.P. Naolekar, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateRajendra Tiwari, Adv.
DispositionRevision allowed
Excerpt:
- - they may have thought in like terms that the claims pending before them had to be transferred to additional tribunals, either constituted or to be constituted thereafter. it may be remembered that the legislature, while enacting section 110-a of the act, clearly intended that the claims arising out of motor accidents, should be expeditiously tried and it was for this purpose that a nominal court-fee was prescribed instead of that which would have otherwise been chargeable under the court fees act, and special tribunals were constituted in place of courts which would ordinarily have tried these claims under the law of torts......section 110 of the act, the district judge, seoni, was constituted the one member motor accident claims tribunal with his headquarters at seoni, for the areas comprising seoni and mandla revenue districts. this claims tribunal was so constituted not only for the claims to be made thereafter, but the notification further directed that all claims for compensation 'in respect of accidents involving the death of or bodily injury to, persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles or damages to any property of a third party so arising or both', pending before any claims tribunal constituted under notification dated august 7, 1959, and april 16, 1969, would stand transferred to the claims tribunal having jurisdiction under the notification. claims tribunal seoni, was one of the 35 motor.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Shiv Dayal, J.

1. Before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Seoni presided over by the District Judge, Seoni, the revision-petitioner made a claim for compensation, arising out of an accident of the nature specified in Sub-section (1) of Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, (hereinafter called the Act).

2. By Notification No. 4484-239/II-A (2) dated December 29, 1969, (hereinafter called the 1969 notification), issued by the State Government, in exercise of powers conferred by Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 110 of the Act, the District Judge, Seoni, was constituted the one Member Motor Accident Claims Tribunal with his headquarters at Seoni, for the areas comprising Seoni and Mandla revenue districts. This claims Tribunal was so constituted not only for the claims to be made thereafter, but the notification further directed that all claims for compensation 'in respect of accidents involving the death of or bodily injury to, persons arising out of the use of Motor Vehicles or damages to any property of a third party so arising or both', pending before any Claims Tribunal constituted under Notification dated August 7, 1959, and April 16, 1969, would stand transferred to the Claims Tribunal having jurisdiction under the notification. Claims Tribunal Seoni, was one of the 35 Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, which were constituted for all the districts of Madhya Pradesh under this notification.

3. The present claim was made after December 29, 1969, but before January 9, 1974. On the last mentioned date, this claim was pending before the learned District Judge Seoni, as Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Seoni.

4. Another notification No. 6/23/ 73/A-2-II was issued on January 9, 1974, (hereinafter called the 1974 Notification), This was in continuation of the notification dated December 29, 1969, and in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 110 of the Act, By this notification, the State Government constituted eight ''Additional Motor Accident Claims Tribunals' (hereinafter called Additional Tribunals) with their respective headquarters at Durg (Rajnandgaon), Jabalpur, Indore, Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal, Dewas & Indore. It may be noted just now that as many as three Additional Tribunals were constituted for Indore. They were called '1st Additional Motor Accident Claims Tribunal 2nd Additional Motor Claims Tribunal and the third Additional Motor Accident claims Tribunal, Indore,' I will make a reference to this a little later. By this notification, it was directed that--

'All Claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving the death of or bodily injury to, persons arising out of tile use of motor vehicles, pending before any of the Claims Tribunal, except Indore, constituted under the Notification dated December 29, 1969, immediately before the commencement of this notification, shall on such commencement stand transferred to the Additional Claims Tribunals having jurisdiction under this notification.'

(Underlined by me)

By the following expression this jurisdiction, which was conferred on these newly constituted Additional Claims Tribunals, was restricted to the claims which were pending on the date of the 1974 notification, that is, January 9, 1974:--

'However, such of the claims which are filed before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunals constituted under Notification No. 4484-289/II. A (2) dated the 29th December 1969, after the issue of this notification shall not be transferred and shall be tried and disposed of by them.' In other words, only those claims were to be transferred to the Additional Claims Tribunals, which were pending on. January, 9, 1974, but claims, which would be preferred after that date, would be tried by the Tribunals which were constituted under the abovesaid notification dated December 29, 1969.

5. By his order dated February 13, 1975, the learned District Judge, Seoni, held that because of the 1974 notification, the present claim could no longer be tried by him and since there was no other Tribunal competent to try this claim, he directed that this claim be consigned to the record room, awaiting orders of its allotment either to him or to any other tribunal. This was not the only claim in which he passed that order there were 40 other claims of the same nature and the learned District Judge consigned all these 41 cases to the record room by a common order. The reason for his taking that action is disclosed in the order, which may be analysed as- follows:--

(i) This Tribunal is competent to entertain a claim under Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 110-A of the Act.

(ii) This claim was pending before this Tribunal on January 9, 1974.

(iii) By notification dated January 9, 1974, Additional Tribunals have been constituted, specifying their headquarters, territorial jurisdiction and names of members.

(iv) The notification dated January 9, 1974, directs that all claims 'pending before any of the Claims Tribunals, except Indore, instituted under the notification dated 29th December 1969 ...... shall on such commencement, stand transferred to the Additional Claims Tribunals having jurisdiction under this notification. ......'

(v) This claim is not one, which is covered by the exception, i.e., it was not filed after, January 9, 1974.

(vi) No Additional Claims Tribunal has been constituted for the revenue districts of Seoni and Mandla, for which this Tribunal was constituted by the Notification of 1969.

(vii) As no Additional Tribunal has been constituted for this area, this case cannot he transferred to any of these Additional Claims Tribunals.

(viii) The Government issued a corrigendum No. 6-23-73-A-2-II dated February 21, 1974 (published in the Madhya Pradesh Rajpatra dated March 8, 1974) which reads as follows:-- 'In the Home Department notification No. 6-23-73-A-2-II dated 9-1-1974, in sub-para (c) after the words 'except Indore' and before the word 'constituted' add the words, Seoni, Raipur, Bilaspur, Shahdol, Sagar, Damoh, Chhindwara, Narsimhapur, Balaghat, Hoshangabad, Khandwa, Rewa, Chhtarpur, Shivpuri, Guna, Ujjain, Dhar, Jhabua, Rat-lam, Mandsaur, Vidisha, Mandleshwar, Raigarh, Ambikapur, Jagdalpur, Bhind, Morena, Satna and Betul.'

But this notification must be read to operate only prospectively; it can have no retrospective effect.

6. On the above reasoning, the learned District Judge has held that he was not competent, after January 9, 1974, to try this claim and it would have to be tried by such Tribunal as may be duly constituted. As there was no such Tribunal constituted on February 13, 1975, he directed the case to be consigned to the record room.

7. Having heard learned counsel for both sides, I have formed the view that the learned District Judge has erred in interpreting the 1974 notification and the doubt entertained by him, while reading that notification, along with the subsequent corrigendum of February 21, 1974 is misconceived.

8. From the letter and spirit of the 1974 notification, there can be no manner of doubt that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Seoni, as constituted under the 1969 notification, was competent to try the present claim. The eight Additional Tribunals, which were constituted by the 1974 notification, have only limited territorial jurisdiction. They were constituted exclusively for the areas specified in the notification itself. It is obvious enough that these Additional Tribunals were constituted for coping with excessive work pending in those districts. Now, all these tribunals were entrusted with only those cases which were pending on the date of the 1974 notification (January 9, 1974). The claims to be made after that date were to be tried by the Tribunals initially constituted under the 1969 notification. In other words, the claims Tribunals which were constituted under the notification of December 29, 1969, continued to be competent as before in all the districts, the exception being that the claims arising out of the areas comprising all those revenue districts, for which Additional Tribunals were constitutend under the 1974 notification, were taken out from the jurisdiction of those respective tribunals, which had been constituted by the 1969 notification. To put it differently, so far as the revenue districts, which did not find any mention in the schedule to the 1974 notification, are concerned, this 1974 notification was as if not made at all, irrespective of when a claim was made, and they would continue to have the same jurisdiction to try all claims arising out of the revenue district/ districts specified in the 1969 notification. The revenue districts named in the 1974 notification were only those which were specified in column 4 of its schedule. Seoni or Mandla is not one of those districts. Therefore, in that view of the matter, the present claim was not at all affected by the notification of January, 9, 1974, and the Claims Tribunal, Seoni, was not at all concerned with that notification. For him, it was as if not issued at all.

9. The 1974 notification directed that all pending claims would he transferred to the Additional Tribunals. The language employed is as dear as it could be. The notification says that the claims 'pending before any of the Claims Tribunal' constituted under the notification of December 1969, shall 'stand transferred to the Additional Claims Tribunal having jurisdiction under this notification'. In other words, where an Additional Claims Tribunal has no jurisdiction under the 1974 notification, no claim would be transferred to it. As already said, not one of the eight Additional Tribunals constituted under the 1974 notification had jurisdiction under that notification in respect of any claim arising out of the revenue district of Seoni or Mandla. Therefore, there was to question at all of any claim pending before the Claims Tribunal, Seoni, to be transferred or to stand as transferred to any of these eight Additional Tribunals.

10. The learned District Judge, while reading the 1974 notification, over-emphasised the words 'all claims for compensation' and has underlined the words 'all claims'. He read that notification as to mean that all claims wherever they may be pending throughout the State would be governed by the notification and would stand transferred from the tribunals before which they were pending. But, where would they be transferred that question is answered either by the notification and, if the notification does not specify the tribunal to which the claims would be transferred, then they should remain in abeyance and should be consigned to the record room. This, in substance, is how the learned District Judge read that notification. In my opinion, that reading is not correct. The expression 'all claims' in the opening sentence of the direction (in the 1974 notification) refers only to those claims which were governed by the notification and which the notification intended to transfer. The expression 'all claims' refers only to those claims which, by the notification, were to be transferred to the Additional Tribunal so constituted.

11. As pointed out earlier, three Additional Tribunals were constituted at Indore by the 1974 notification. If the words 'except Indore' were not there, there would have been a confusion as to which cases were to be tried by the 1st Additional Tribunal, which by the 2nd Additional Tribunal and which by the 3rd Additional Tribunal. It is obvious enough that the State Government had to distribute the claims already pending before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunals, Indore (as constituted by the 1969 notification) among the three Additional Tribunals for the Indore district (under the 1974 notification). As that was not done by the second notification itself, and perhaps the State Government required the particulars of the pending claims for the purposes of such distribution, the words 'except Indore' were employed. The import of that expression was that there would not be any automatic transfer of the pending claims to the Additional Tribunals constituted for the Indore district. In such a case, there would not be automatic transfer without specifying the particular pending claims and distributing them among the three Additional Tribunals. To my mind that alone is the meaning and impact of the expression 'except Indore'.

12. It appears that the doubt which was entertained and given effect to by the learned District Judge, Seoni, might have been entertained by some other District Judges who were constituted as Claims Tribunals for other districts. They may have thought in like terms that the claims pending before them had to be transferred to Additional Tribunals, either constituted or to be constituted thereafter. Evidently, for the removal of that doubt the notification of February 21, 1974, was issued and all the districts which were not governed by the 1974 notification were also specified after the word 'except'. It was thus made very clear that the 1974 notification had no application to those districts which were specified in the notification of 1974. It is undoubtedly unhappy that they were clubbed along with Indore, Indore being one of those districts for which three Additional Tribunals had been constituted. In any event, Seoni stood excluded from the applicability of the 1974 notification. About this, the learned District Judge thought that the 1974 notification operates only prospectively but not retrospectively, so that the claims to which the notification applied could not be saved by this subsequent corrigendum. There, in my opinion, he was not right. The corrigendum can only be construed as an explanatory one or a clarification. Even without this corrigendum, the 1974 notification was neither defective nor ambiguous. Sometimes something has to be stated by way of clarification for the removal of doubt and, that corrigendum was of that nature.

13. Shri Tiwari, learned counsel for the M.P.S.R.T.C. suggested that if the Government issues a notification specifying that the 1974 notification applied only to those districts for which Additional Tribunals were constituted, the whole problem would be solved. But, in my opinion the problem did not arise at all. Therefore, it is not necessary to suggest a fresh notification as a solution.

14. In my opinion, there was no occasion to search for whether the notification of 1974 had retrospective effect. If we read the 1974 notification once again and particularly the expression that the claims shall stand transferred 'to the Additional Tribunals' having jurisdiction under this notification', it only means, and it will merely be the other way of saying the same thing that no claims shall stand transferred to any additional Tribunal, unless there is one which has jurisdiction under that notification. Therefore, no claim pending before the Claims Tribunal, Seoni, as constituted by the 1969 notification, stood transferred to any other tribunal, There was no question of finding out whether the corrigendum had any retrospective effect or not.

15. As I have read the notification, it is neither defective nor ambiguous. But even if it were, for a moment, the rules of interpretation fully clothe the Court to construe the law in a manner which would not lead to absurdity. 'Transfer' must necessarily be accompanied by the hand from which and the hand to which something is to be transferred, or the place from which and the place to which something is to be transferred that is to say, 'Transfer' must carry with it 'from' and 'to'. If either of them is wanting, there can be no transfer. It could never be the intention of, any of the notifications (of January 1974 or February 1974) that there would be transfer of claims in vacuo and that the claims would have to be consigned to the record room. It may be remembered that the legislature, while enacting Section 110-A of the Act, clearly intended that the claims arising out of motor accidents, should be expeditiously tried and it was for this purpose that a nominal court-fee was prescribed instead of that which would have otherwise been chargeable under the Court Fees Act, and special Tribunals were constituted in place of courts which would ordinarily have tried these claims under the law of torts.

16. For these reasons, the interpretation put by the learned District Judge, Seoni, to the notification of January 9, 1974 cannot be accepted. It must be held that the claims Tribunal, Seoni, was competent to try and dispose of the present claim, which was pending before it, without its jurisdiction being, in any way, affected by the 1974 notification.

17. As a result of the above discussion, this revision is allowed. The order of the learned District Judge, Seoni, is set aside. It is held that he, as Motor Accident claims Tribunal, constituted under the notification of December 29, 1969, is competent to try this claim. Accordingly, it is directed that he shall resume the trial of this claim according to law. Parties shall bear their own costs.


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