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Tulsi Dass and anr. Vs. Panna Lal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.O. No. 225-D of 1965
Judge
Reported in[1978]48CompCas169(Delhi)
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 2(19) and 110A
AppellantTulsi Dass and anr.
RespondentPanna Lal and ors.
Appellant Advocate S.C. Dhanda, Adv
Respondent Advocate Mehtab Singh, Adv. for Respondent No. 1 and ;None appeared for Respondents Nos. 2 to 4
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredOriental Fire & General Insurance Company Limited v. Vimal Roy
Excerpt:
.....to plead that insured person was not owner of vehicle - insurance company to pay compensation as awarded by tribunal. - - 4, the learned tribunal held that the application was not bad for non-joinder of necessary parties. the legal effect of the transfer of the vehicle in the name of tulsi dass by the the finance company as well as by the insurance company would be that tulsi dass would be the person who was in possession of the vehicle under the hire-purchase agreement and was, thereforee, the owner of the vehicle within the meaning of section 2(19} of the act......including fractures. he claimed the said amount of compensation jointly and severally from tulsi dass, the first appellant herein, the oriental fire and general insurance company limited, the second appellant herein, shri pyare singh, the united india general finance private limited and m/s. delhi-saharanpur road carrier private limited, respondents nos. 2, 3 and 4 respectively herein. the compensation was claimed from the appellants and respondents nos. 2 to 4 because the second respondent was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident, shri tulsi dass, the first appellant, was the registered owner of the vehicle, the second appellant was the insurer of the said vehicle, the third respondent because the vehicle was the subject-matter of a hire purchase agreement with the.....
Judgment:

M.R.A. Ansari, J.

1. Panna Lal, who is the first respondent in this appeal, filed an application before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Delhi (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal) under Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), claiming a sum of Rs. 20,000 by way of damages for the injuries alleged to have been sustained by him in a motor vehicle accident on 2nd May, 1962. According to the averments in the said application, Panna Lal was traveling on the pillion of the scooter driven by his brother, Harbans Lal, at about 5.15 p.m. When they reached near the crossing of Rohtak Road and Faiz Road, a truck bearing registration No. DLG 4726 which was being driven by one Pyare . Singh, who is respondent No. 2 in this appeal, rashly and negligently knocked down the scooter as a result of which Panna Lal was dragged to a distance of 20 or 25 paces and received multiple injuries including fractures. He claimed the said amount of compensation jointly and severally from Tulsi Dass, the first appellant herein, the Oriental Fire and General Insurance Company Limited, the second appellant herein, Shri Pyare Singh, the United India General Finance Private Limited and M/s. Delhi-Saharanpur Road Carrier Private Limited, respondents Nos. 2, 3 and 4 respectively herein. The compensation was claimed from the appellants and respondents Nos. 2 to 4 because the second respondent was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident, Shri Tulsi Dass, the first appellant, was the registered owner of the vehicle, the second appellant was the insurer of the said vehicle, the third respondent because the vehicle was the subject-matter of a hire purchase agreement with the said finance company and the fourth respondent because the insurance policy in respect of the vehicle originally stood in the name of the fourth respondent.

2. The common ground on which the claim was resisted by all these persons was that the accident took place not because of any rashness or negligence on the part of the driver of the vehicle but only because of the rashness and negligence on the part of Harbans Lal who was driving the scooter. In addition, Tulsi Dass contended that although the vehicle stood registered in his name with the Road Transport Authority, he was not the real owner of the vehicle, he having sold the vehicle to Pyare Singh even prior to the date of the accident. The insurance company resisted the claim on the ground that the insurance policy was not in favor of Tulsi Dass but was in favor of M/s. Delhi-Saharanpur Road Carrier Private Limited, that the policy was transferred in favor of Tulsi Dass from 7th July, 1962, i.e., subsequent to the date of the accident, that Tulsi Dass had in turn sold the vehicle to Pyare Singh before the date of the accident, that Pyare Singh who was the owner of the vehicle on the date of the accident was not insured with them and that, thereforee, they were not liable to pay any compensation. The finance company, respondent No. 3, disowned any liability for the compensation on the ground that under the hire purchase agreement the vehicle had been given to one Ram Lubhaya. Respondent No. 4 also disowned any liability for the compensation on the ground that on the date of the accident it had nothing to do with the vehicle, the insurance policy having been already transferred in favor of Tulsi Dass with effect from 24th July, 1961.

3. On these pleadings, the learned Tribunal framed the following issues:

1. Whether the accident resulting in injuries to the petitioner was caused due to rash and negligent driving of respondent No. 1 in the course of employment of respondents Nos. 2, 3, and 5 ?

2. Whether the application is within time as against respondent No. 5 and can this plea be raised by the other respondents when respondent No. 5 has not chosen to raise this objection ?

3. Whether there are sufficient grounds for condensation of delay in impleading respondent No. 5 after the prescribed period of limitation ?

4. Whether the application is barred for non-joinder of necessary parties on the grounds mentioned in para. No. 5 of the preliminary objections of respondents Nos. 3 and 4 ?

5. To what amount, if any, is the petitioner entitled ?

6. Relief.

4. Issue No. 2 was not pressed before the Tribunal and, thereforee, the Tribunal held this issue in favor of the petitioner before him, i.e., Panna Lal. On issue No. 4, the learned Tribunal held that the application was not bad for non-joinder of necessary parties. On issues Nos. 1 and 3, the learned Tribunal held that the accident occurred due to the rashness and negligence of Pyare Singh who was driving the vehicle at that time, that respondent No. 5 before the Tribunal, namely, M/s. Delhi-Saharanpur Road Carrier Private Limited, was not the owner of the vehicle on the date of the accident and that it was Tulsi Dass, the first appellant herein, who was the owner of the vehicle at that time and that he was the insured person under the insurance policy, the second appellant herein. On issue No. 5, he held that Panna Lal was entitled to recover compensation of Rs. 3,500 with costs from the appellants herein and the insurance company. He held that the finance company and M/s. Delhi-Saharanpur Road Carrier Private Limited were not liable to pay any compensation. He, thereforee, passed an award in favor of Panna Lal for Rs. 3,500 with costs against the appellants herein and Pyare Singh and dismissed Panna Lal's application so far as the finance company and M/s. Delhi-Saharanpur Road Carrier Private Limited were concerned. Only Tulsi Dass, the first appellant, and the insurance company, the. second appellant herein, have filed the present appeal against the said award of the learned Tribunal and have imp leaded Panna Lal, Pyare Singh, the United India General Finance Private Limited and M/s. Delhi-Saharanpur Road Carrier Limited as respondents Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively.

5. During the hearing of the appeal, it was contended before me that issue No. 1 framed by the learned Tribunal was not properly framed and that the main controversy between the parties, namely, who was the owner of the truck on the date of the accident and who was liable to pay compensation to Panna Lal, had not been brought out by the issue framed by the learned Tribunal and that the parties did not lead evidence on the question of the ownership of the truck. It was also contended that the learned Tribunal had not considered the provisions of Section 2, Clause (19) of the Act in deciding the question of the ownership of the vehicle. By my order dated November 21, 1973, the following two additional issues were framed by me and the case was remanded to the learned Tribunal for trial on these additional issues:

1. Whether the respondents or any of them is the owner of the vehicle on the relevant date within the meaning of Section 2(19) of the Act?

3. Whether the respondents or any of them is liable to pay compensation, if any, to the petitioner

6. Although opportunity was given to all the parties concerned to adduce any fresh evidence on these additional issues, none of the parties actually adduced any fresh evidence and relied upon the evidence already recorded by the learned Tribunal. On a consideration of the said evidence, the learned Tribunal submitted his findings on the additional issues. He held on additional issue No. 1 that Tulsi Dass, the first appellant, was the owner of the vehicle on the date of the accident within the meaning of Section 2(19) of the Act and on additional issue No. 2, he held that the said vehicle having been insured with the second appellant herein in favor of Tulsi Dass, the insurance company was also liable to pay compensation along with Tulsi Dass and Pyare Singh, driver.

7. During the hearing of the appeal, Tulsi Dass, the first appellant, died and an application was filed on behalf of the first respondent Panna Lal, that Tulsi Dass having died and his legal representatives not having been brought on record in time, the appeal had abated and should be dismissed. The second respondent on the other hand, filed applications for bringing on record the legal representatives of the deceased, the first appellant, and also for condensation of delay in filing the said application. The application filed by Panna Lal was dismissed on the ground that the cause of action survived so far as the second appellant was concerned and that, thereforee, the appeal could not be dismissed. The applications filed on behalf of the second appellant for bringing on record the legal representatives of Tulsi Dass were heard along with the appeal and, as the learned counsel for the second appellant did not press them, they are hereby dismissed.

8. The finding of the learned Tribunal that the accident occurred due to the rashness and negligence of Pyare Singh, the driver of the vehicle, is not disputed by Shri S.C. Dhanda, learned counsel for the second appellant. The learned counsel has also not disputed the quantum of the compensation awarded by the learned Tribunal. The only questions that now survive for consideration are -

(i) who was the owner of the truck on the date of the accident within the meaning of Section 2(19) of the Act and

(ii) whether the second appellant is liable to pay the compensation awarded by the learned Tribunal

9. It is not disputed that Tulsi Dass, the first appellant herein, was the registered owner of the vehicle with the Road Transport Authority. He was, thereforee, the ostensible owner of the vehicle. But that does not prevent the insurance company, the second appellant herein, from contending that Tulsi Dass was not the real owner of the vehicle and that the real owner of the vehicle was someone else who was not insured by the insurance company and that, thereforee, the insurance company was not liable to pay any compensation, in view of the fact that on the date of the accident the real owner of the vehicle was someone other than the person who was insured under the insurance policy. A Division Bench of this court has held in Oriental Fire & General Insurance Company Limited v. Vimal Roy : AIR1973Delhi115 , that although a certificate of registration was an important piece of evidence to ostensibly show the owner of the vehicle who was to pay taxes and perform duties and obligations under the Motor Vehicles Act, the endorsement of transfer on the certificate was not a condition precedent and its absence did not make an otherwise valid sale as illegal or ineffective. It was further held that the sale of the vehicle was complete as soon as the consideration was paid and the delivery was effected irrespective of the fact that the sale had been registered with the Registering Authority or not. It was finally held that, in the absence of a stipulation to the contrary, an insurance policy which was a personal contract for indemnity, lapsed upon the transfer of the motor vehicle and the benefit of the policy was not available to the transferred without an express agreement with the insurance company. thereforee, if Tulsi Dass who was the insured person under the insurance policy was not the real owner of the vehicle, the insurance company would not be liable to pay any compensation in respect of the accident that occurred at a time when Tulsi Dass was not the owner of the vehicle.

10. Some evidence was adduced on behalf of the insurance company to show that even prior to the date of the accident, Tulsi Dass had transferred the vehicle in favor of Pyare Singh. An affidavit was also filed but Pyare Singh himself was not examined as a witness. An affidavit alleged to have been sworn by Pyare Singh's brother, Apar Singh, was filed but Apar Singh himself was not examined. thereforee, except the interested testimony of Tulsi Dass, there is no other evidence to show that prior to the date of the accident Tulsi Dass had transferred the vehicle in favor of Pyare Singh. The learned Tribunal was, thereforee, right in its finding in not accepting the evidence adduced on behalf of the appellants that Tulsi Dass had transferred the vehicle to Pyare Singh prior to the date of the accident.

11. But it is contended by Shri Dhanda, learned counsel for the insurance company, that even if the evidence establishes that Tulsi Dass was not only the registered owner of the vehicle but also the real owner, the insurance company would not be liable to pay compensation if Tulsi Dass was not the person who was in possession of the vehicle under a hire-purchase agreement. He has referred to Section 2(19) of the Act, which is in the following terms:

''owner' means, where the person in possession of a motor vehicle is a minor, the guardian of such minor ; and in relation to a motor vehicle which is the subject of a hire-purchase agreement, the person in possession of the vehicle under that agreement.'

12. It has, thereforee, to be considered whether Tulsi Dass was the owner of the vehicle within the meaning of Section 2(19) of the Act. Ex. R. 3/1 is the hire-purchase agreement; Ex. R. 3/2 is the proposal form relating to the said agreement. In these two documents, the third respondent herein, the United India General Finance (Private) Limited, is stated to be the owner of the vehicle and Shri Ram Lubhaya, c/o M/s. Delhi-Faridabad Goods Transport Company, Faridabad, is stated to be the hirer. Although the vehicle which is the subject-matter of this agreement is described as a 1957 model Dodge and the insurance policy, Ex. R/4, describes the vehicle that was insured as a 1960 model Dodge, it was not disputed during the proceedings before the Tribunal that it was the vehicle which was involved in the accident which was the subject-matter of the hire-purchase agreement and which was also insured under the insurance policy. thereforee, it would prima facie appear that Ram Lubhaya was the person who was in possession of the vehicle under the hire-purchase agreement. Ex. R. 3/3 is a copy of the statement of hire money account maintained by respondent No. 3 in respect of vehicle No. DLG 4726 which was involved in the accident. This document also shows that the hire money was being credited in the name of Ram Lubhaya. But there is evidence to show that at some stage the third respondent itself transferred the vehicle in favor of Tulsi Dass and this transfer was also recognised by the insurance company, the second appellant herein, and the name of Tulsi Dass was mentioned in the insurance policy as the insured person. R. 3 W. 1, Shri Tara Chand, who is an accountant of the Finance company, respondent No. 3, has stated in his evidence as follows:

' We allowed the transfer of the vehicle in favor of Tulsi Dass on the responsibility of our hirer, Ram Lubhaya.'

13. R. 4 W. 1, Shri Dorai Raj, who was working as special assistant with the insurance company, has stated in his statement as follows:

' The interest in the policy was transferred in favor of Tulsi Dass, care of respondent No. 3 (the finance company) with effect from 24th August, 1961.'

He has also stated :

' We transferred the policy in favor of Tulsi Dass on the basis of a letter received from financiers, namely, respondent No. 3 and not on any letter received from Tulsi Dass.'

14. An endorsement which was attached and which formed part of the insurance policy, Ex. R/4, is to the following effect:

' It is hereby declared and agreed that as from 24th August, 1961, the interest in the policy is transferred to and vested in Sh. Tulsi Dass, c/o. M/s. United India General: Finance (Private) Limited, Bank Street, Karol Bagh, New Delhi......who shall be deemed to be the insured and whose proposal and declaration dated 24-8-1961 shall be deemed to be incorporated in and to be the basis of this contract.'

15. Ex. R/3/13 is a letter from the finance company to the insurance company by which the former informed the latter that the vehicle No. DLG 4726 had been transferred in the name of Shri Tulsi Dass being the permit-holder and the insurance company was requested to note the necessary change in their records and send them their fresh certificate of insurance to that effect. The oral and documentary evidence referred to above proves that sometime prior to the date of the accident the finance company transferred the vehicle in the name of Tulsi Dass and the insurance company also transferred the insurance policy in favor of Tulsi Dass.

16. The Explanationn sought to be given on behalf of the insurance company is that this transfer was effected only because Tulsi Dass happened to be the holder of a permit under the Act whereas Ram Lubhaya did not hold such a permit and that for the purpose of enabling Ram Lubhaya to operate the vehicle, the said vehicle had to be transferred in the name of Tulsi Dass. The evidence in support of this Explanationn is not satisfactory and it has been rightly rejected by the learned Tribunal. If this Explanationn was true, there was no reason why, according to Tulsi Dass, he sold the vehicle to Pyare Singh. The legal effect of the transfer of the vehicle in the name of Tulsi Dass by the the finance company as well as by the insurance company would be that Tulsi Dass would be the person who was in possession of the vehicle under the hire-purchase agreement and was, thereforee, the owner of the vehicle within the meaning of Section 2(19} of the Act. It is, thereforee, not open to the insurance company to plead that although Tulsi Dass was the insured person under the insurance policy, he was not the owner of the vehicle. The insurance company was, thereforee, liable to pay the compensation that has been awarded by the learned Tribunal.

In the result, the appeal is dismissed with costs.


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