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Madan Lal JaIn Vs. Municipal Corporation of Delhi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 329 of 1981
Judge
Reported inAIR1982Delhi282; [1985]57CompCas782(Delhi); 21(1982)DLT432; 1982RLR549
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110
AppellantMadan Lal Jain
RespondentMunicipal Corporation of Delhi and ors.
Advocates: T.K. Jain and; U.P. Bansal, Advs
Excerpt:
.....by the claims tribunal that was restricted against the driver, owner or insurer of the motor vehicle, involved in the accident - the claim for compensation was filed before the claims tribunal against the municipal corporation - the court ruled that the claim could not be entertained against the persons other than those mentioned in section 110-b of the motor vehicle act, 1939. - - , that the front wheel of the scooter fell in a pit on the road and the scooter overturned as a result of which he fell down and received grievous injuries, that the accident occurred on account of the negligence of the employees of municipal corporation of delhi and of the contractors engaged by the corporation in digging the pit and not putting the warning or indication at the pit, that..........(hereinafter referred to as 'the act') challenges the judgment and order dated 16-7-1981 of the motor accident clainls.tribuiial, delhi dismissing the claim petition of the appellant on the ground that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to award compensation against persons other than those mentioned in section 110-b of the act. the appellant madan lal jain filed a petition under section 110-a of the act claiming rs. 25,000.00 as damages against the respondents, namely. municipal corporation of delhi, contractor of the corporation and the water supply and swerage disposal undertaking, alleging that on 24-7-1979 he was driving two-wheeler scooter on ring road with front head-light on between 10 a and 11 p.m., that the front wheel of the scooter fell in a pit on the road and the scooter.....
Judgment:

Sultan Singh, J.

(1) This appeal under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') challenges the judgment and order dated 16-7-1981 of the Motor Accident Clainls.Tribuiial, Delhi dismissing the claim petition of the appellant on the ground that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to award compensation against persons other than those mentioned in Section 110-B of the Act. The appellant Madan Lal Jain filed a petition under Section 110-A of the Act claiming Rs. 25,000.00 as damages against the respondents, namely. Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Contractor of the Corporation and the Water Supply and Swerage Disposal Undertaking, alleging that on 24-7-1979 he was driving two-wheeler scooter on ring road with front head-light on between 10 a and 11 P.M., that the front wheel of the scooter fell in a pit on the road and the scooter overturned as a result of which he fell down and received grievous injuries, that the accident occurred on account of the negligence of the employees of Municipal Corporation of Delhi and of the contractors engaged by the Corporation in digging the pit and not putting the warning or indication at the pit, that respondents owed a duty towards him in providing safe road and they failed in their duty by not putting up any red-light sign or any other signal the place to warn the users of the road. it has been further alleged by him that his helmet was broken and scooter was damaged, that he spent Rs. 100.00 on repairs of scooter, and the cost of helmet was Rs. 100.00 , that he remained under plaster for about two months and the treatment is still continuing, that he cannot bend his right leg nor can sit or squat, that he could not look after his business and his business suffered. He thus claimed Rs. 25,000.00 as compensation. His scooter No. Dhp 9148 is insured with New India Assurance Co. Ltd. The respondents raised a preliminary objection that the petition against them was not maintainable. The Tribunal by the impugned judgment held that the petition was not maintainable as the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to award compensation against persons other than insurer, owner or driver of the vehicle involved in the accident. Hence this first appeal.

(2) The question for decision in this appeal is : what is the extent of jurisdiction of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal constituted under Section 1 10 of the Act Sections 110 to I I Of were substituted in the Act by Act 100 of 1956 with effect from 16-2-1957. Previously all claims for compensation arising out of motor accident were treated as ordinary civil suits to be adjudi- cated by Civil Courts. By insertion of the said sections in the Act a cheap remedy was provided to the person who sustained injury and to his legal heirs. The intention was to save the heirs from payment of court fees on claims and to have a speedy remedy against the driver, the owner and the insurer of the vehicle involved in the accident. Sections 110 and 1103 of the Act read as under :

'110.(1) A State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute one or more Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals (hereinafter referred to as Claims Tribunals) for such area as may be specified in the notification for the purpose of adjudicating upon 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 If damages to any property of a third party so arising, or both : -, Provided that where such claims includes a claim for compensation in respect of damage to property exceeding rupees two thousand, the claimant may, at his option, refer the claim to a Civil Court for adjudication, and where a reference is so made, the Claims Tribunal shall have no jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to such claim. (2) A claims Tribunal shall consist of such number of members as the State Government may think fit to appoint and where it consists of two or more members, one of them shall be appointed as the Chairman thereof. (3) A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a member of a Claims Tribunal unless he- (a) is, or has been, a judge of a High Court, or (b) is, or has been a District Judge, or (c) is qualified for appointment as a Judge of the High Court. (4) Where two or more Claims Tribunals are constituted for any area, the State Government may, by general or special order, regulate the distribution of business among them.'

110-B.On receipt of an application for compensation made under Section 110-A, the Claims Tribunal shall, after giving the parties an opportunity of being heard, hold an inquiry into the claim and may make an award determining the amount of compensation which appears to it to be just and specifying the person or persons to whom compensation shall be paid ; and in making the award the Claims Tribunal shall specify the amount which shall be paid by the insurer or owner or driver of the vehicle involved in the accident or by all or any of them, as the case may be.'

Under the former section the State Government by notification is authorised to constitute one or more Tribunals for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents arising out of the use of motor vehicles. Under the latter section the Tribunal is required to specify the amount of compensation payable by the driver, the owner and the insurer when there is an accident and injury is caused to the person or property of the victim. The injured person may claim compensation against any person who may be held negligent. Under the Act, however a special provision has been made to claim compensation on account of death or bodily injury to the the person caused by the use of motor vehicle. It also provides for recovery of damages to any property of a third person on account of the accident by a motor vehicle. Under Section I IO-A of the Act such an application for compensation can be filed by a person who has sustained injuries, by the owner of the property or by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased. The Act provides that the Tribunal shall hold an enquiry into the claim and make an award determining the amount of compensation and specifying the persons to whom the compensation shall be paid. Further Section 110 B provides that the Tribunal shall specify the amount which shall be paid by the insurer, owner or driver of the vehicle involved in the accident. In other words the scope of adjudication by the Tribunal is restricted against the driver, owner or insurer of the motor vehicle involved in the accident. The Act does not provide for claiming compensation against each and every person who may be negligent and responsible for the damage caused to a person or his property. A person against whom the compensa- corporation is claimed must be a person or authority having connection with the motor vehicle involved in the accident. The compensation is claimed under the Act on account of the use of the motor vehicle by the opposite party. If the opposite party had no connection with the vehicle involved in the accident he cannot be made liable under the Act. In the instant case the appellant was driving his two-wheeler scooter, his front wheel of the scooter fell into a pit on account of which the scooter overturned and he received injuries. This may be a case of negligence on the part of the Corporation authorities in not properly maintaining the roads, but it has not arisen on account of the use of motor vehicle. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has no connection with the scooter of the appellant. The respondents are not involved in any motor vehicle accident and as such the claim against them cannot be entertained by a Claims Tribunal under the Act. The remedy if any against the respondents on account of their negligence in properly maintaining the roads lies only before the Civil Court and not before the Tribunal. Under Section 110 of the Act claim for compensation arises when there is injury or damage to the property arising out of the use of motor vehicle. This motor vehicle must be connected in one way or the other to the party against whom the compensation is being claimed. In the instant case the appellant himself is the owner driver of the scooter. The respondents have no connection with his scooter. It thereforee cannot bs said that injury to the person or property of the appellant has arisen out of the use of the motor vehicle within the meaning of Section 110 of the Act.- The respondent is neither a driver nor owner of any vehicle in the instant case. The intention of the legislature was not to include claims for compensation against all persons. The claims for compensation are restricted to the category of persons mentioned in Section 110B of the Act, i.e. the driver, owner or the insurer of the vehicle involved in the accident. These sections occur in the chapter dealing with insurance of motor vehicles against third party risk. The object behind these sections is only to provide for a speedy and effective machinery to persons injured in accident. Learned counsel for the appellant submits that Section 1 10 postulates enquiry of all claims arising out of any accident of the motor vehicle. To accept the contention of the learned counsel that it would include claims against all persons, would lead to consequences which were never contemplated by the legislature in amending and substituting Sections 110 to 110-Fof the Act. A person proceeding on a motor vehicle may be injured by an accident resulting from a fall of a tree. It cannot be said that the injured person can lay a claim before the Claims Tribunal under the Act, against the owner of the tree, if it was due to the negligence of such owner that such accident occurred. I do not think that the provisions of the Act were intended to enable a person injured to make a claim against any party simply because the accident arose out of the use of motor vehicle. In my view the claims referred in Section 1 10 of the Act are applicable only to cases of claims against the insurer, driver, or owner of the vehicle involved in the accident. The proper forum for adjudicating a claim against the strangers is Civil Court.

(3) Learned counsel for the appellant then submits that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court is barred under Section 110-F of the Act. The claim of the appellant against respondents who were strangers to the accident would be maintainable in the Civil Court and is not barred under Section 110-F of the Act. This Section bars the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to entertain any claim for compensation over which the Claims Tribunals have jurisdiction. As already stated the jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunal to award compensaon is restricted against driver, owner or the insurer of the vehicle involved in the accident as mentioned in Section 110-B of the Act. In The. Oriental Fire. & General Insurance. Co. Ltd. and another v. Union of India, : AIR1975AP222 it has been held that the claims referred to in Section 110 are applicable only to cases of claims against the owner, the driver of the motor vehicle or the insurer as the case may be and not against strangers. It has further been held that proper forum for adjudicating a claim against strangers in a Civil Court and that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in such a case is not barred by Section 110-F of the Act for adjudicating claims against strangers. Similar observations were made in Swaranalata Dutta Barua and, another v. M/s. National Transport India Pvt. Ltd. and another, Air 1974 Gau 31. I am thereforee of the view that the Tribunal was correct in holding that the claim petition against the respondent who arc stangers to the alleged accident was not maintainable under Section 1 10 read with Section IIO-B of the Act. There is no infirmity in the judgment of the Tribunal. The appeal is thereforee dismissed. No order as to costs.


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