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New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Col. Gurcharan Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal Nos. 323 to 325 of 1978
Judge
Reported in[1986]59CompCas15(P& H)
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 95, 95(2) and 103A
AppellantNew India Assurance Co. Ltd.
RespondentCol. Gurcharan Singh and ors.
Appellant Advocate L.M. Suri, Adv.
Respondent Advocate V.P. Gandhi, Adv. for respondent No. 1,; Laxmi Grover, Adv. for respondent Nos. 2 and 3 and;
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases Referred and Motor Owners Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jadavji Keshavji Modi
Excerpt:
.....asked for the transfer of the certificate of insurance and the policy in favour of the transferee, sewa singh, as required by section 103a of the act, the company is not liable for the payment of compensation on account of the accident; r 5), and the company having failed to take any action on that or to intimate its refusal to gurmukh singh or the transferee, sewa singh, the certificate and the policy in question shall be deemed to have been transferred in favour of the transferee in terms of section 103a of the act. r 5, was received by the company or was in its knowledge, the same did not satisfy the requirements of sub-section (1) of section 103a of the act and the company was well justified in not transferring the certificate and the insurance policy in favour of sewa singh...........claims tribunal, ambala, as a result of the claim applications filed by the injured, held sewa singh, owner of the truck, though the same was insured with the appellant, insurance company, liable to pay rs. 20,000 + rs. 2,500 by way of compensation to the two injured, i.e., the father and the daughter, respectively. it was also found as a fact that gurmukh singh, the original owner of the truck, had sold the same to his father, sewa singh, prior to the date of accident. since gurmukh singh had not informed the insurance company about this transfer in terms of section 103a of the motor vehicles act, 1939 (for short, ' the act '), and the insurance policy had not actually been transferred in favour of the subsequent purchaser, sewa singh, the company was absolved of its liability......
Judgment:

I.S. Tiwana, J.

1. The three Letters Patent Appeals Nos. 323 to 325 of 1978 are directed against the same judgment of the learned single judge and are thus being disposed of together. The facts which deserve to be noticed and are otherwise found to have been established are as follows :

On August 23, 1970, Col. Gurcharan Singh and his daughter, Dr. Harinder Kaur, while travelling by car from Delhi to Chandigarh met with an accident near Army Petrol Depot on G. T. Road, Ambala, and as a result thereof suffered multiple injuries. The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Ambala, as a result of the claim applications filed by the injured, held Sewa Singh, owner of the truck, though the same was insured with the appellant, insurance company, liable to pay Rs. 20,000 + Rs. 2,500 by way of compensation to the two injured, i.e., the father and the daughter, respectively. It was also found as a fact that Gurmukh Singh, the original owner of the truck, had sold the same to his father, Sewa Singh, prior to the date of accident. Since Gurmukh Singh had not informed the insurance company about this transfer in terms of Section 103A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (for short, ' the Act '), and the insurance policy had not actually been transferred in favour of the subsequent purchaser, Sewa Singh, the company was absolved of its liability. This order of the Tribunal was assailed by the two claimants with regard to the adequacy of compensation and also by Sewa Singh on the plea that the transfer in his favour had duly been accepted by the appellant-company and instead of him, the company was liable for the payment of compensation. The learned single judge, while disposing of these appeals, vide the impugned judgment, maintained the amount of compensation determined in the case of Dr. Harinder Kaur but enhanced the same to Rs. 30,000 in the case of Col. Gurcharan Singh and fixed the entire liability on the appellant-company. Hence, these three appeals by the company, two against the claimants and the third against Sewa Singh, who now stand relieved of the liability.

2. Mr. Suri, learned counsel for the appellant, raises the following three contentions :

(i) Since the original owner of the truck, Gurmukh Singh, in whose favour the insurance policy had been issued on January 21, 1970, had failed to apply in the prescribed form and thereby failed to inform the insurer (appellant-company) and never asked for the transfer of the certificate of insurance and the policy in favour of the transferee, Sewa Singh, as required by Section 103A of the Act, the company is not liable for the payment of compensation on account of the accident;

(ii) Since the amendment of Section 95(2)(a) of the Act which enhanced the liability in respect of one accident from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 50,000 came into force with effect from March 2, 1970, i.e., subsequent to the issuance of the policy in favour of Gurmukh Singh, the original owner of the truck, the company could not be made liable, if at all beyond Rs. 20,000 ; and

(iii) Though there are two injured claimants in this case, since they were injured in one accident, the liability of the company cannot be taken beyond Rs. 20,000, in all, for both the claimants.

3. So far as the above-noted contentions mentioned at Sl. Nos. (ii) and (iii) are concerned, the same now stand settled by the authoritative pronouncements of the Supreme Court in Padma Srinivasan v. Premier Insurance Co. Ltd. [1983] 53 Comp Cas 333 ; AIR 1982 SC 836 and Motor Owners Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jadavji Keshavji Modi [1982] 52 Comp Cas 454 ; [1981] ACJ 507, respectively. Learned counsel very fairly and frankly concedes this legal aspect of the matter and thus these contentions stand repelled.

4. With regard to the other contention mentioned at (i), the learned single judge has found that though the accident took place on August 23, 1970, subsequent to the issuance of the insurance policy by the appellant-company in favour of Gurmukh Singh, the original owner on January 21, 1970, yet he having duly communicated the factum of transfer of the truck to the company, vide his letter dated March 31, 1970 (Ex. R 5), and the company having failed to take any action on that or to intimate its refusal to Gurmukh Singh or the transferee, Sewa Singh, the certificate and the policy in question shall be deemed to have been transferred in favour of the transferee in terms of Section 103A of the Act. Mr. Suri, however, maintains that neither the above-noted letter, Ex. R 5, alleged to have been written by Gurmukh Singh to the company was received by it nor did Gurmukh Singh apply in the prescribed form asking the company to transfer the insurance certificate and the policy in favour of Sewa Singh and thus even if it be held that the letter, Ex. R 5, was received by the company or was in its knowledge, the same did not satisfy the requirements of Sub-section (1) of Section 103A of the Act and the company was well justified in not transferring the certificate and the insurance policy in favour of Sewa Singh. I see no merit in these submissions of Mr. Suri. There is nothing on record to show that the letter (copy of which is Ex. R 5) written and posted by Sewa Singh should not be presumed to have reached the company in the normal course. The stand of the company about the non-receipt of this letter stands belied by another letter of the company. Ex. R 2, dated November 19, 1970, written to Sewa Singh in reply to his claim application with regard to the accident in question wherein the company suggested that Sewa Singh should contact Mr. L.M. Suri, the standing counsel of the company, to settle the matter. The company even sent a telegram, Ex. R 3, to the same effect. Further, the evidence of RWs 1 and 3 read in the light of these documents written by the company leaves no manner of doubt that the company was fully aware of the factum of transfer of the truck in favour of Sewa Singh but failed to take any actionor to transfer the insurance certificate and policy in favour of the letter. The provisions of Section 103A of the Act fully fasten the liability on the appellant-company. The submission of Mr. Suri that even the intimation, vide letter, Ex. R 5, did not satisfy the requirements of Sub-section (1) as the said letter could not be treated on par with an application in the prescribed form and it did not contain any request for the transfer of the insurance certificate and the policy in favour of Sewa Singh deserves no deeper consideration for the reason that the whole object of Section 103A of the Act, as I see it, is to provide an opportunity to the insurance-company with whom the vehicle is insured, to state if there is any objection to accept the purchaser of the vehicle as the insured person as a result of the transfer of the motor vehicle. The rigour of the section that in case there is no intimation of the insurer's refusal to transfer the certificate and the policy in favour of the purchaser of the vehicle, then the said certificate and the insurance policy shall be deemed to have been transferred to the purchaser, is indeed a salutary provision which appears to have been introduced with a view to prevent the insurers from seeking to avoid liability unless they have affirmatively declined to agree to the novation of the contract of indemnity. The sole purpose of informing the appellant about the transfer of the truck, vide letter, Ex. R 5, was to seek its reaction to the transfer of the insurance certificate and policy in favour of Sewa Singh, the transferee, from the original owner. The appellant having not said anything in reply to this letter cannot now possibly deny its liability in the light of the above-noted provision of the Act. In view of this, this stand of Mr. Suri too fails.

5. No other point having been stressed by the learned counsel for the appellant, I see no merit in these appeals and thus order their dismissal but with no order as to costs.


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