(1) This appeal is directed against the order of Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal dismissing the application of the appellant for compensation on the ground of limitation.
(2) On 10th November, 1962 at about 10 P.M. the appellent was injured in an accident with taxi no. DLT-1031. This taxi was driven by Gurdip Singh, respondent no. 1 and was owned by Sher Singh respondent no. 2 and was in ured with respondent no. 3. It is alleged that Gurdip Singh, respondent was driving the taxi in the course of his employment with respondent no. 2 and at the time of accident, he was rash and negligent in driving the taxi. On 10th January, 1963 the appellant made an application under Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act claiming rupees ten thousand from the respondents by way of compensation. The appellant also made an application for con- donation of delay under sub-section of Section 110-A. It was alleged that the petitioner had sustained a compound fracture of the right thigh, bone besides. the injury on right knee and was admitted to the Irwin Hospital. Since father of the appellant, who was out of Delhi, came back on knowing the accident and he took necessary steps to make the application for compensation, it was. prayed that the delay of two days be condoned. On the pleadings of the parties, a preliminary issue was framed which was to the following effect : ' Whether the petitioner was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time ?' The Tribunal found that the father of the appellant had reached Delhi on 7th or 8th of January, 1963 and that the appellant had failed to explain as to what prevented his father from filing the claim on 7th or 8th or 9th of January, 1963. He also found that the petitioner could have made the application within time through his father's nephew. He thus concluded that there was negligence and in-action on the part of the appellant and thereforee refused to condone the delay and dismissed the application for compensation as barred by time.
(3) It is contended by the learned counsel for the appellant that it was not disputed by the respondents that the appellant remained in hospital from 10th November, 1962 to 3rd April, 1963. While in the hospital the appellant was being looked after by one of his cousins Pran Nath, who had informed the appellant's father about the accident. The father had reached Delhi on 7th or 8th of January, 1963 and had contacted the advocate who advised him to make the necessary application. In these circumstances, there was no negligence or in-action on the part of the appellant He also contends that the learned Tribunal was wrong in expecting the appellant to show what prevented his father from filing the complaint on 7th, 8th or 9th January, 1963.
(4) The learned counsel for the respondents contends that the appellant was negligent in not taking the help of his cousin Pran Nath or his father to file the application for that claim within limitation. The appellant had produced Dr. S.B. Kohli. A.W. 1 Pran Nath, A.W. i and Wazir Chand, A. W. 3 in support of his application for condensation of delay in addition to his own statement as A.W. 4, Dr. S.B. Kohli, A.W. 1 proved that the appellant was in the hospital from 10.11.1962 to 3.4.1963 and that during this period he could not move about. Pran Nath, A.W. 2 is the cousin who was attending on the appellant in the hospital. He has stated that he was the only person in Delhi who could look ofter the the appellant and he had no other relation. He stated that he did not know the limitation for filing the application for compensation but he came to know from Mr. Panna Lal, Advocate, that it had to ba done within two months. He had collected the particulars of the taxi in question for the purpose of filing the application. Wazir Chand, A.W. 3 is the father of the appellant, who came to know about the accident in Assam and rushed back to Delhi. He stated that Panna Lal, Advocate was his friend and that he met him on 7th, 8th &9th January, 1963 when he was informed about the limitation. The petitioner appearned as A.W. 4 and stated that he was tied to the bed in hospital and could not move. After his discharge on 3rd April, 1963 he was advised to try to move on crutches. He stated that on 10th January, 1963, Panna Lal Vohra, Advocate a friend of his father, came to him in the hospital saying that he came to know about the appellant's accident the same day. He suggested making of application for compensation through his nephew A.W. 2. from owner etc. of the taxi in question. On 10th January 1963 he signed the application at about 11 A.M. Ha further stated that he had not given his power of attorney to his cousion A. W. 2. No evidence was produced by the respondents.
(5) From the evidence it is clear that the appellant was not in a position even leave the bed during his confinement in the hospital. He had tried to take the help of his cousin A..W. 2 for filing the application under the friendly advice of Panna Lal Vohra, Advocate. It is true that the appellant's father had come down to Delhi on hearing the news of the accident and according to him, he had seen Mr. Vohra, Advocate either on 7th or 8th or 9th Januaay, 1963. He was not sure whether the application for compensation had been given before his arrival in Delhi or after his arrival.
(6) Under section 110-A (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, the delay in. making the application for compensation can be condoned in case the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time. It is true that it is the duty of the applicant to explain each day's delay i but that does not mean that the applicant has to explain as to why he failed to make the application on the days falling within the limitation period. The learned Tribunal was, thereforee, not correct in holding that it was not explained as to what prevented the applicant and his father from filing the claim on 7th, 8th or 9th of January.the learnd Tribunal Was also wrong in excepting Explanationn as to why the father of the applicant had failed and though he was trying to seek the help of his father and his cousin, it docs not mean that ' these persons had to prove their bonafides and lack of negligence before the delay could be condoned. The words ''sufficient cause' should received a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice, if there has been no serious negligence or in-action or want of bonafides on the part of applicant (see New India Assurance Co. Ltd. New Delhi and another V. Punjab Roadways, Ambala City and Others, A.I.R. 1964 Pun 235. Where a person is confined to bed in a hospital and is not allowed to move about, in my opinion, it would be a sufficient cause for condoning the delay in making the requisite application. Simply because he was trying to get the help of his relations during his confinement in the hospital, who delayed the filing of the petition, does not mean that the confinement of the appellant in the hospital where he was even un-able to move would not amount to a sufficient cause for condoning the delay.
(7) The result is that the appeal is accepted and the order of the Tribunal refusing to condone the delay under section 110-A (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act is set aside and the delay in filing the application for compensation is condoned and the Tribunal is directed to proceed with the application for compensation aad dispose it of according to law. There will be no order as to costs.