1. Norati Devi widow of Sarwan Singh deceased filed an application before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Patiala, for compensation on the ground that car No. 27--C. D. 53 driven by Mr. Kalaus Juergen, Assistant Attache, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in India, had run over her husband who was going on a cycle on 19-1-1974. Mr. Kalaus Juergen had also been impleaded as respondent No. 1 in that petition, but on an objection raised by him that he was entitled to claim diplomatic immunity his name was struck off from the array of respondents. The learned Tribunal after going into the merits awarded compensation to the tune of Rs. 11,000/- to Smt. Norati Devi directly against the New India Assurance Company, which has come up in appeal before us.
2. Mr. Sabharwal, the learned counsel for the appellant--Company, has drawn our attention to S. 96 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, which lays down that after an award has been made against an insured person it would be the duty of the insurance company to meet the claim. From the wording employed in this section, the learned counsel sought to argue that until and unless the person involved in the accident had not been impleaded as a party, no award could be made against the Insurance Company. In support of this proposition, he has placed reliance upon a single Bench decision of this Court in Ruby General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Smt. Misri Devi, AIR 1962 Punj 522 and a Division Bench judgment of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in New Asiatic Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Kulwanti Devi AIR 1959 J. and K. 90. In none of the cases cited by the learned counsel the insurer was such a person who could claim diplomatic immunity from being sued in an ordinary Court. Even otherwise, we feel that if the Insurance Company is allowed to contest the claim in accordance with the principles of natural justice or the procedure envisaged by the Act and the rules on the subject, it is not open to it to escape liability on the basis of such a hypertechnical plea because in the ultimate analysis it alone has to satisfy the claim. Section 96 of the said Act only clarifies that if an award is made, it would be the duty of the Insurance Company to meet the claim. It nowhere lays down that if the Insurance Company is allowed to contest the liability in the absence of the insurer it should not be held liable. It is significant to mention that in Smt. Misri Devi's case (supra), decided by a learned Judge of this Court it was conceded before him that owner of the vehicle was a necessary party to the proceedings. As at present advised, we cannot subscribe to the broad proposition that an Insurance Company can never be held liable so long as the insurer is not impleaded as a party to the proceedings, or having been impleaded his name is ordered to be struck off from the array of respondents on the basis that he enjoys diplomatic immunity from being sued in a Court.
3. So far as the merits of the claim are concerned, the learned counsel for the appellant--Company has not been able to satisfy us that the amount awarded is excessive in any manner or wise. We accordingly see no force in this appeal and order the same to be dismissed in limine.
4. Appeal dismissed.