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R.C. Mathew Vs. K.M. Jose and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberM.F.A. No. 514 of 1978
Judge
Reported inAIR1982Ker71
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110 and 110A (1)
AppellantR.C. Mathew
RespondentK.M. Jose and ors.
Appellant Advocate T.R. Ramchandran Nair and C.C. Thomas, Advs.
Respondent Advocate M.M. Thomas and K.M. Immanuel, Advs.
Cases ReferredDr. Achalmal Singhvi v. Chano Khan
Excerpt:
motor vehicles - claim - sections 110 and 110a (1) of motor vehicles act, 1939 - whether claim tribunal constituted under section 110 can adjudicate upon claim for compensation in respect of death or bodily injury of person - answer was given by interpretation of relevant sections and precedents - in view of interpretation claim tribunal can adjudicate upon claim for compensation in respect of death or bodily injury. - .....of the use of a motor vehicle but involving only damages to property and not involving death of or bodily injury to any person? this is the question that falls for decision in this case.2. it is not disputed that under section 110 of the act the state government can constitute one or more claims tribunal for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents arising out of the use of motor vehicles, if such accidents involve the death of, or bodily injury to persons or damages to any property of a third party, or both, and that this provision is disjunctive wherefore a claims tribunal so constituted has adjudicatory jurisdiction to determine compensation for either or both of (i) the death of or bodily injury to persons and (ii) damages to any property of a.....
Judgment:

George Vadakkel, J.

1. Can, a Claims Tribunal constituted under Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter, the Act) adjudicate upon a claim for compensation in respect of an accident which arose on 26-5-1976 (i. e. prior to the introduction of Clause (aa) in Section 110-A (1) of the Act) out of the use of a motor vehicle but involving only damages to property and not involving death of or bodily injury to any person? This is the question that falls for decision in this case.

2. It is not disputed that under Section 110 of the Act the State Government can constitute one or more Claims Tribunal for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents arising out of the use of motor vehicles, if such accidents involve the death of, or bodily injury to persons or damages to any property of a third party, or both, and that this provision is disjunctive wherefore a Claims Tribunal so constituted has adjudicatory jurisdiction to determine compensation for either or both of (i) the death of or bodily injury to persons and (ii) damages to any property of a third party caused by an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle. It is also not disputed that the Kerala State Government has constituted Claims Tribunals in this State in terms of Section 110 of the Act, conferring jurisdiction on them to adjudicate upon claims for compensation for either or both of (i) the death of or bodily injury to persons and (ii) damages to any property of a third party caused by an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle.

3. The contention is that despite such conferment of jurisdiction as is contemplated by Section 110 of the Act, an application claiming compensation solely for damages to a property of a third party caused by an accident arising out of the use of motor vehicle cannot be entertained because Section 110A of the Act (as it stood prior to its amendment by Act 47 of 1978) does not mention that such a person can make an application. One would have thought that a Court or Tribunal invested by a statutory provision with jurisdiction to adjudicate upon a certain claim could competently exercise that jurisdiction on such jurisdiction being invoked by any one, who has a cause of action of the nature over which and in respect of which such adjudicatory jurisdiction is conferred on the Court or the Tribunal, no matter whether the statute contains or not another provision which says that such a person can make an application in that behalf. If adjudicatory jurisdiction exists, it needs only to be invoked for its exercise, as otherwise the conferment of that power will not serve any purpose. If there are provisions governing the manner in which such power is to be invoked, certainly, it could be invoked only in that manner. If there be no provi-sion regulating the manner of invoking that power, then it can be invoked in any manner that is in accord with the general practice obtained in relation to invocation of the jurisdiction of the particular Court or the Tribunal, as the case may be.

4. The constitution of Claims Tribunals under Section 110 of the Act is, as stated therein 'for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation'. Compensation, in law means, a payment to make amends for loss or injury to person or property. The claim for compensation may be in account of the death of or bodily injury to persons; or of damage to any property.

5. Section 110-A (1), prior to its amendment by Act 47 of 1978, provided :--

'An application for compensation arising out of an accident of the nature specified in Sub-section (1) of Section 110 may be made.

(a) by the person who has sustained the injury; or

(b) where death has resulted from the accident by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased; or

(c) by any agent duly authorised by the person injured or all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased, as the case may be:'

(Proviso omitted).

6. The argument on behalf of the respondents which was accepted by the Claims Tribunal is that a person whose claim is only for compensation in respect of damage caused to his property by the accident, cannot make an application for compensation, because he is not a 'person who has sustained injury', meaning thereby, that he is one who has not sustained (to borrow the language employed by the Statute in Section 110) 'bodily injury'. In other words, and shortly put, the submission is that Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 110A takes in only persons who have sustained 'bodily injury' by the accident.

7. In our view the expression 'bodily injury' in Section 110 is narrower in meaning than the sense of the word 'injury' used in Section 110A (1) (a). The former term : 'bodily injury' means 'bodily harm' or 'physical injury' sustained by a person, while the word 'injury' connotes injury or harm of any kind sustained by a person. If it were otherwise why should the Legislature use the word 'bodily injury' in Section 110 and not use the same expression in Section 110A (1) (a)? Section 110-A (1) (b) provides for making of an application for compensation by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased where the accident has resulted in the death of any person. Where the accident has resulted only in physical injury short of death of a person, he can admittedly make an application for compensation for such injury because he falls under Section 110A (1) (a). If the Legislature had in view only these two classes of claims in enacting Section 110A (1) (as it stood previously) and had not in mind the third category of claims mentioned in Section 110, viz., claims for compensation for damage or injury to property, then, we think that the Legislature would have used the more particular expression, 'bodily injury' used in Section 110 in Section 110A (1) (a) also rather than using the generic term 'injury'.

8. Perhaps, till the amendment of Section 110 by Act 56 of 1969 by which adjudication of claims for compensation fordamages to property of a third partywas also brought within the jurisdictionof the Claims Tribunals. Section 110A (1) (a)envisaged only making of applications forcompensation for 'bodily injury' sustainedby a person as a result of a motor accident. However, we are of the view, thaton such amendment, the Legislature didnot make specific provision in Section 110A (1)as regards making of applications for claim for compensation for damages toproperty (as done later by introducing Clause (aa) in Section 110A (1) by Act 47 of 1978)because, Section 116A (1) (a) would take in applications in respect of such classes ofclaims also. We are also of the view that,therefore, the subsequent introduction of Clause (aa) which specificallyprovides for applications for compensation 'by the owner of the property'damaged by the accident is only by wayof abundant caution.

9. The decisions in Ratan Singh Karsanbhai Nakum v. Isadkhan Gulam-khan (1975 Acc CJ 455) (Guj) and Haryana State v. Pusa Ram, (1979 Acc CJ 12) : (AIR 1978 Punj & Har 171) take the same view as we have taken herein, namely, that Section 110A (1) (a) is comprehensive enough to include within its ambit also a person who has not sustained any bodily injury but whose property has been damaged by the accident. In the Gujarat High Court's decision it is pointed out that Webster's Dictionary defines the word 'injury' as meaning : 'physical harm or damage to a person, property etc.' and the word 'sustain' as meaning 'to endure; to bear up against; withstand; to undergo; to experience; to suffer, as an injury or loss'. The other decision cited at the bar on behalf of the appellant are Thillai Govindan v. Karuppasamy (1979 Acc CJ 445 (Mad)) and Banwari Lal v. Vishnunarayan (1975 Acc CJ 40 (MP)). In these two cases the question raised in the case on hand did not arise for consideration though it was held that the Tribunal can, in view of amendment of Section 110 by Act 56 of 1969 adjudicate upon a claim for compensation for damage to property. Of the decisions cited at the bar it remains to be noticed only Dr. Achalmal Singhvi v. Chano Khan (1977 Acc CJ 276) : (AIR 1977 Raj 213) of the Rajasthan High Court. This was a case where a composite claim was made for compensation for damage to the claimant's car and for bodily injury sustained by him. The Rajasthan High Court held that such a claim is competent. We do not think that this decision is in any way germane to the point raised herein.

In view of what is said above, we set aside the order under appeal and direct the Claims Tribunal to try and dispose of the claim made by the appellant. This appeal is allowed to the above extent. There will be no order as regards costs.


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