A.S. Sarela, J.
1. The Special Civil Application No. 261/67 and the Civil Revision Application No. 227/67 are both concerned with a claim arising out of the same accident caused by a motor vehicle and as they raise identical questions and have been argued together they are being disposed of by a common judgment.
2. The material facts are these. One Miss Zarin Rustomji Munshi is the petitioner in both the cases. She was studying in M. Sayajirao University, Baroda, when while she was proceeding on the university road, also known as the National Highway Road, on her bycycle on 6-2-1963 at about 8.50 A. M. she was knocked down by a motor truck No, GTA 5429. That truck was driven by one Santubhai Manibhai Patel who is respondent No. 1 in both the cases. The truck belonged to one Bhupendra Chunilal Patel who is respondent No. 2 in both the cases. Respondent No. 3 in the special civil application is the Universal Fire and General Insurance Company. That Company is not made a party to the civil revision application. After the accident because of the serious injuries sustained by the petitioner she was removed to the hospital and was an indoor patient upto 26-2-1964. After her discharge from the hospital she made a claim for compensation under the relevant provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act 1939 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), to be presently mentioned, before the Claims Tribunal constituted under the Act. The Claims Tribunal for the area in question was the District Judge, Baroda. Before the Claims Tribunal it was urged on behalf of the opponents namely the driver of the motor truck, the owner and the Insurance Company that the Claims Tribunal had no jurisdiction as it had been constituted after the date of the accident. That contention was upheld by the Claims Tribunal and the application for compensation was ordered to be returned to the applicant for presentation to the proper court. This order was passed on 26-7-1965. The petitioner then approached the Civil Court, Senior Division, at Baroda which would in that case have jurisdiction to entertain her claim. That suit was filed on 8-10-1965. Before the Civil Court it was urged on behalf of the driver of the truck and the owner who were party-defendants in the suit that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction as the jurisdiction lay exclusively with the Claims Tribunal even if that Tribunal had been constituted after the date of the accident as that tribunal was in existence when the application claiming compensation was made. That contention was accepted by the court on the basis of a decision of this High Court to be presently mentioned. The Court, therefore, made an order returning the plaint to the plaintiff for presenting it before the Claims Tribunal to establish her claim. This order was made on 27-6-1966. In September 1966 these two petitions were filed namely the special civil application and the civil revision application.
3. The point whether the Claims Tribunal or the Civil Court had jurisdiction to entertain and decide the claim under consideration is now concluded so far as this court is concerned by the decision of this Court in Natverlal v. Khodaji : (1967)8GLR779 . The facts of that case being similar to the facts of the present case may be mentioned There the accident, arising from the driving of the motor truck, took place on 26th July 1962 and in that accident one Somaji Khodaji met with his death. On that date there was no Claims Tribunal in existence for the area concerned. The Claims Tribunal for that area was constituted by a Notification issued under Section 110 of the Act on 28th June 1963. Now the representatives of the deceased Somaji preferred an application before the Claims Tribunal on 24th July. 1963 claiming compensation for the death of Somaji. The application was directed against the owner of the motor truck, the driver oil the motor truck and the insurance company with whom the truck was insured. They contended that since the accident had occurred prior to the constitution of the Claims Tribunal or at any rate beyond a period of sixty days before the constitution of the Claims Tribunal, the Claims Tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the claim under Section 110-A of the Act. The Claims Tribunal tried this as a preliminary issue and held that it had jurisdiction. Against this order the owner of the motor truck had preferred the special civil application. This Court held that no suit having been filed in respect of the claim prior to the constitution of the Claims Tribunal, the Claims Tribunal had exclusive jurisdiction to entertain the claim for compensation on a true construction of Sections 110-A(3) and 110-F. The facts in the present case are similar to the facts of that case. The accident in the present case took place on 6-2-1963. The Claims Tribunal for the area concerned was constituted by Notification dated 4-7-1963. Before that date no suit had been filed by the petitioner claiming compensation. In fact she was an indoor patient in the hospital. She was discharged, as earlier stated, on 26-2-1964 and then she filed the application before the Claims Tribunal. Therefore, having regard to the ruling in the case of : (1967)8GLR779 (supra) the Claims Tribunal, had jurisdiction to entertain and decide this application for compensation and that jurisdiction was exclusive. On that view of the matter so far as the civil revision application No. 227 of 1967 is concerned it is not tenable and the rule issued in that application will, therefore, have to be discharged.
4. As regards the special civil application which is made against the order of the Claims Tribunal refusing to entertain the application for compensation on the ground that it had no jurisdiction, two points have been urged by Mr. K. C. Shah who appeared for respondents Nos. 1 and 2 and which points were supported by Mr. G. C. Patel who appeared for respondent No. 3. The points are
(i) That the special civil application is not competent because an appeal lies against the order of the Claims Tribunal; and
(ii) that if the special civil application is competent it should nevertheless be thrown out on the ground of delay and latches.
These are, therefore, the only two points calling for decision, no other point having been urged.
5. On the first point the provision which calls for construction is Section 110-D of the Act That section reads as under:
'Appeals:-- (1) Subject to the provisions of Sub-section (2), any person aggrieved by an award of a Claims Tribunal may, within ninety days from the date of the award, prefer an appeal to the High Court;
Provided that the High Court may entertain the appeal after the expiry of the said period of ninety days, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from preferring the appeal in time.
(2) No appeal shall lie against any award of a Claims Tribunal, if the amount in dispute in the appeal is less than two thousand rupees.'
Under this provision a right of appeal is available to any person aggrieved by an award of the Claims Tribunal provided that the amount in dispute in the appeal is not less than Rs. 2000/-. We are not in this case concerned with the question of the amount in dispute. The provision also lays down the period during which the appeal is to be filed but we are also not concerned with that question. So far as the point in controversy in this special civil application is concerned the only question to be decided is whether the order of the Claims Tribunal in this case is an award. Only if it is an award the aggrieved party has a right to appeal and the short question, therefore is whether there has been in this case an award as contemplated by the section.
6. It will be appropriate first to notice in brief the scheme of Sections 110 to 110-F which deal with adjudication of the claims for compensation in respect of an accident involving death or bodily injury to a person arising out of the use of a motor vehicle. Sub-section (1) of Section 110-A empowers the State Government to constitute by a notification one or more Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals (referred to as the 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. Therefore, the sub-section which provides for the constitution of the Claims Tribunal also lays down the purpose for which the Claims Tribunals are to be constituted. The other sub-sections relate to the qualifications of the person appointed to work as the Claims Tribunal and for other matters which are not relevant for the purpose of this case. Section 110A makes provision in Sub-section (1) on the point as to who can make an application for compensation, in Sub-section (2) on the point as to the Claims Tribunal to which the application is to be made and in Subsection (3) on the point as to the period during which the application shall be made. Section 110-B which empowers the Claims Tribunal to make an award is important for our purpose and may be set out. It reads:--
'Award of the Claims Tribunal:-- 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.'
The section requires the Claims Tribunal to give an opportunity of hearing to the parties. The section also requires the Claims Tribunal to 'hold an inquiry into the claim' and then the section goes on to say, the Tribunal may make an award determining the amount of compensation which appears to be just and specifying the person or persons to whom the compensation is to be paid. Therefore, the last part of the section sets out what an award can provide. Section 110-C is concerned with the procedure to be followed by the Claims Tribunal in holding an inquiry under Section 110-B, Section 110-D has been earlier set out. Section 110-E is not relevant and Section 110-F relates to bar of jurisdiction of civil courts in respect of any question relating to any claim for compensation which may be adjudicated by the Claims Tribunal.
7. Now, the right of appeal under Section 110-D is available, as earlier pointed out, to a person aggrieved by an award of the Claims Tribunal Mr. Shah has referred me to several authorities on the interpretation of the word 'award'. His argument is that the expression 'award' as used in Section 110-D would cover a decision of the Claims Tribunal holding that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the application for compensation. I shall presently refer to those authorities but before doing so I propose to deal with the question in the light of the provisions themselves. The expression 'award' is not defined by the Act It should, therefore, be reasonable to construe it in the light of its ordinary meaning as governed by the context. An award as defined in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, in so far as relevant, is a decision after examination especially that of an arbitrator or umpire; that which is awarded or assigned as payment', etc. In Black's Law Dictionary it is defined as 'the decision or determination rendered by arbitrators or commissioners, or other private or extra judicial deciders, upon a controversy submitted to them; also the writing or document embodying such decision'. The verb 'award' has been defined in the latter dictionary as 'to grant, concede or adjudge to'. The expression therefore carries the meaning of adjudication of a claim. While that is the general meaning the expression as used in Section 110 must obviously take colour from its context. Fortunately the context in this case gives sufficient indication. The power to make an award is derived from Section 110-B, and the award contemplated there is one that follows the holding of an inquiry into the claim. The inquiry into the claim may be on merits or it may be on the question whether the person making the claim is entitled to make it or whether that right subsists. The inquiry may be full-fledged or may be a summary inquiry as contemplated by Rule 296 of the Bombay Motor Vehicles Rules in which it is provided that the Claims Tribunal may, after considering the application and the statement, if any, of the applicant recorded under Rule 295, summarily dismiss the application, if for reasons to be recorded, the Tribunal is of opinion that there are not sufficient grounds for proceeding therewith. The inquiry whatever it may be must, however, under Section 110-B of the Act, be 'an inquiry into the claim' and the award which the Claims Tribunal is entitled to make is the result of such inquiry. The fact that Section 110-B requires an inquiry into the claim is emphasized in Section 110-C which provides for the procedure to be followed in holding the inquiry under Section 110-B. Therefore, an award postulates an inquiry into the claim. This also follows from Section 110 (1) for the Claims Tribunal is constituted 'for the purpose of adjudicating upon the claims of the compensation'. The very purpose of the constitution of the Claims Tribunal is to adjudicate upon the claims for compensation. Therefore, an adjudication on the basis of an inquiry into the claim is the necessary element of an award which the Claims Tribunal is empowered to make.
8. Now in this case what the Claims Tribunal did was to refuse to hold an inquiry into the claim on the ground that it had no jurisdiction. The order is not one of dismissal or disposal of the claim or determination of the claim in any other manner. There is no adjudication of the claim but a refusal to adjudicate. But Mr. Shah argues that even such a refusal to hold an inquiry into the claim or to adjudicate is an award. His argument is that the order of the Claims Tribunal in this case puts an end to the case so far as the Claims Tribunal is concerned. The Claims Tribunal, he argues, has held an inquiry into its jurisdiction to entertain the claim, and come to a decision on that question. That inquiry, according to him, clothed the decision with the attribute of an award as contemplated by Section 110-D. He argues that as the various sections, to which reference has been earlier made, form a self-contained code relating to the determination of the claims for compensation in respect of accidents of the nature referred to in Section 110, the expression 'award' used in Section 110-D must be given a very wide interpretation and must include every decision of the Claims Tribunal with reference to the application for compensation made before it. In support of this submission he has relied on some decisions to which I shall now turn.
9. In Govindarajulu v. Govindaraja : AIR1966Mad332 a person who suffered as a result of the accident arising from the driving of a motor lorry made a claim for compensation before the Claims Tribunal against four persons. The respondent No. 1 was the owner of the lorry and respondent No, 2 was the insurance company. It appears that at the time of the accident the lorry had been entrusted for repairs and was in custody of respondent No. 3 who was the lorry repairer and while it was in his custody that it was taken out without permission by the driver respondent No. 4. The claim was made against all these respondents. The High Court was not concerned with respondents Nos. 3 and 4 but with respondents Nos. 1 and 2 against whom the claim was rejected by the Claims Tribunal and against that rejection the claimant had come in appeal to the High Court. There was no dispute as to the amount involved in appeal: the amount being more than Rs. 2,000/-. The High Court examined on merits the question of liability of respondents Nos. 1 and 2 and held that they were not liable and then proceeded to consider certain preliminary objections made on behalf of the respondents. One of those objections was as to the competency of the appeal. Relying upon the language of Sections 110-B and 110-D of the Act it was urged on behalf of the respondents that an appeal would lie only if the Claims Tribunal passed an award holding that the claimant would be entitled to some compensation not less than Rs. 2000/- and that if the Claims Tribunal dismissed altogether and rejected the claim no appeal would lie under Section 110-D. It was this contention which was negatived by the High Court and in negativing that contention they observed:
'Taking the Section 110-D itself there is nothing to indicate that the intention of the Legislature was to restrict the right of appeal only in a case in which the decision of the Claims Tribunal resulted in imposing a liability for compensation. In other words, there is nothing in the section to warrant the view that an appeal would lie only at the instance of the insurance company or the owner of the motor vehicle or the person who is held responsible for the accident in question. Such a view would render the right of appeal expressly provided under Section 110-D futile when the clear avowed object of the provision is not to make the decision of the Claims Tribunal final, but on the other hand to make the decision of the High Court alone final and conclusive'.
In the concluding portion of these observations the High Court overlooked the fact that if the amount in dispute is less than Rs. 2000/- there is no right of appeal. However, it is the other observations which are material for our purpose and what they held, on the basis of the reasons earlier given, is that,
'The expression 'award' in Section 110-D must be understood as the decision of the Claims Tribunal whether a total dismissal of the claim or the determination of a particular amount of compensation,'
They go on to point out later that:
'If the Claims Tribunal had upheld the claim of the claimant in part the claimant would be entitled to prefer an appeal in respect of the portion disallowed under Section 110-D. It will lead to strange results and absurd anomalies to say that the claimant will have a right of appeal if a portion of the claim is rejected but he is denied a right of appeal when his claim is rejected in its entirety,'
This decision does not really touch the point of inquiry in the present case. In the Madras case there was an inquiry into the claim and an adjudication on the claim. Such an adjudication would certainly be an award as contemplated by Section 110-D as earlier pointed out by me. But Mr. Shah relies on one observation in the judgment where the learned Judge says 'we are therefore of the view that on a proper interpretation of Section 110-B, an award would comprehend every decision of the Tribunal, whether for or against the claimant of the opposite parties'. This observation must be read in the light of the facts of the case. It cannot be said that every decision would be appealable whether or not it is an award under Section 110-D. Section 110-D does not make appealable any order or decision of the Claims Tribunal whether or not it is an award. It would not be unreasonable to infer that to that extent the right of appeal under Section 110-D is restrictive and only such decision or order of the Claims Tribunal would be appealable as amounts to an award. Therefore, when the Judges in the Madras case speak of every decision they had in mind every decision of the nature of an award as explained by them in that case.
10. The next decision relied on by Mr. Patel is the decision of the Madras High Court in Gopalaswami v. Navalagaria, AIR 1967 Mad 403. In that case the claimant had made an application to the Claims Tribunal after a period of 60 days which is the period provided for in Sub-section (3) of Section 110-A, The claimant applied to the Claims Tribunal for excusing the delay as is permissible under the proviso to that subsection. The Claims Tribunal rejected that application. It is against that order that an appeal was filed by the claimant in the High Court. In the High Court a preliminary objection was taken as to the maintainability of the appeal. It was contended that the order of the Claims Tribunal refusing to entertain the application which was filed 60 days after the date of the accident is not in law as award and therefore no appeal lay under Section 110-D. The learned Judge who decided the appeal in dealing with that contention said :--
'I am unable to accept this contention, for the order of the Tribunal refusing to entertain an application puts an end to the claim and decides the application once for all against the claimant.'
In support of this contention he proceeded to analyse Section 110-D. He referred to the meaning of the word 'award' which he says means 'to adjudicate, grant ..... judicial decision', and he goes on to say :--
'To construe the word award to include only the determination or refusal to grant any compensation may be giving a very restricted meaning. When the Tribunal decides to entertain an application after the expiry of the sixty days or refuses to entertain an application the decision is judicial in character'.
On this ground he came to the conclusion that the decision amounted to an award. I do not see how this decision helps Mr. Shah. It does not go as far as he wants to go namely that a refusal to adjudicate is also an award. This decision in effect points out that a decision of a Claims Tribunal holding that the claim is time barred is an award. Such a view is consistent with the reading of the section as earlier indicated.
11. Mr. Shah also invited my attention to another decision of the Madras High Court in Mohd. Habibullah v. Seethammal : AIR1967Mad123 . That was a Letters Patent Appeal filed by the owner of a motor vehicle and by the insurance company with reference to a case of fatal motor accident which Rave rise to a justifiable claim for compensation, The facts set out in the first para of the judgment would go to show that not only the Claims Tribunal but also the learned High Court Judge who decided the appeal went into the question and both came to an unambiguous conclusion on the merits that this was a case of a motor accident that ended fatally under such circumstances as to justify, and fully justify, the claim for compensation. It appears therefore that compensation was awarded. The party aggrieved had come in appeal and then failing in appeal it had gone in Letters Patent Appeal. The only point raised in the Letters Patent Appeal was that the claimant who was a married sister of the deceased was not entitled to claim compensation. Reliance was placed in support of that contention on certain provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act. The learned Judges held that the Fatal Accidents Act was not attracted and that under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act namely Sections 110 to 110-F she was entitled to claim compensation. This case does not throw any light on the question arising for decision in the present case.
12. The next case to which Mr. Shah has invited my attention and on which he has considerably relied is the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Om Prakash v. N. F. & G. Insurance Company : AIR1962MP19 . In that case the claimant, who was injured in an accident arising from the collision between his car and a motor bus belonging to respondent No. 2, claimed compensation on two counts, one on account of injuries to his person and the other on account of damages to his car. It was a composite claim. The Claims Tribunal held that it had no jurisdiction to enquire into the claim relating to damages to the car, because, in its view that claim was not covered by the expression 'compensation' used to Section 110-A. The claimant went in appeal and the question for consideration was whether Section 110-A covered a claim of this nature. It was held that it did. However, a preliminary point was taken by the respondents that no appeal under Section 110 would lie because the decision of the Claims Tribunal in holding that it would not inquire into the claim or grant compensation was not an award. The reply given on behalf of the appellant by his learned counsel was that 'not to give an award itself was an award under the particular circumstances of this case and, therefore, the order passed by the Claims Tribunal was appealable'. This submission was accepted. In accepting this submission the learned Judges say:
'The Claims Tribunal has definitely refused to go into the question and, therefore, so far as the Tribunal is concerned, the order passed amounts to that the damages in these proceedings could not be awarded to the appellant At any rate, the order of the Claims Tribunal has the effect of doing away with the award in this respect altogether' and they concluded that the order doing away with the award is itself an award. In support of that proposition they relied on two decisions, one of the Patna High Court and the other of the Allahabad High Court. It is necessary to refer to these decisions in order to understand the reasoning behind the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
13. The Patna decision on which reliance was placed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court is Jagdish Mahton v. Sunder Mahton, AIR 1949 Pat 393. In that case an application had been made by a party to the Court under Section 14(2) of the Indian Arbitration Act, 1940, requesting the court to call upon the arbitrators to file the award they had made. The other side contended that there was in fact no award. The court on a consideration of the affidavits filed before it accepted that plea and rejected the application. Against that order an appeal was filed under Section 39 of the Arbitration Act. One of the preliminary contentions taken on behalf of the respondents in the appeal was that no appeal lay and the argument was that the order passed was not one setting aside the award but was one holding that there was no award at all, and such an order was not appealable under Section 39 of the Arbitration Act, The learned Judges referred to the scheme of the relevant sections of that Act namely Sections 30 to 33 and pointed out, particularly having regard to the language of Section 30, that
'In cases coming under Clause (b) of Section 30 there is really no award, and yet the section provides for the setting aside of the 'award'. Similarly, Section 33 speaks of a 'party to an arbitration agreement' though that very person may be challenging the existence of an arbitration agreement.'
And the learned Judges, therefore, came to the conclusion that where Clause (c) of Section 30 provides for a case where 'the award has been improperly procured is otherwise invalid,' it should be held to cover a case like the one they were dealing with, They go on to say:--'The provisions of this clause are very general, and I see no reason why they should not be held to cover a case like the present. The finding is that the award is signed by the persons who are named as arbitrators in the arbitration deed. Can it not be fairly said that the award was improperly procured, or at least that it is 'otherwise invalid'? The order of the Subordinate Judge, therefore, refusing to act on the award is an order setting aside the award and an appeal lies against it.'
Clearly this decision rests on the scheme and language of Sections 30 to 33 of the Arbitration Act. The expression 'award' there used, as pointed out by the learned Judge, is clearly meant to cover cases of no valid award and therefore the refusal to act on such an award was tantamount to setting the award aside. That reasoning based as it was on the scheme and language of those provisions cannot be imported into a set of provisions of which the scheme and language are not the same.
14. The Allahabad decision which has been relied on in the Madhya Pradesh ruling is Syed Hasan All v. Askari Begam : AIR1959All777 . This case is similar on facts to the abovementioned Patna case. There also an application under Section 14(2) of the Arbitration Act was made for filing the award. The Civil Judge before whom it was made rejected the application holding that the award was beyond time. In an appeal to the High Court under Section 39 of that Act it was contended by the respondent that the appeal was not maintainable. The court rejected that contention observing:
'It is admitted that an application under Section 14 of the Arbitration Act was given in the trial court. It is further admitted that the award was filed in court as a result of that application, and objections to the said award were invited. Thereafter the respondent filed objections and the court adjudicated on those objections after going into the matter. The court finally dismissed the application for filing the award. The order of the trial court, therefore, amounts to an order setting aside the award and would, therefore, be appealable. Reference in this connection may be made to a decision of the Patna High Court in Jagdish Mahton v. Sunder Mahton AIR 1949 Pat 393.'
Therefore, in that case the court had decided the matter on merits and this order was held to amount to setting aside of the award.
15. It will be noticed that the Patna and Allahabad decisions just referred to on which the Madhya Pradesh High Court has relied in the decision on which Mr. Shah has placed reliance related to the Arbitration Act The word 'award' used therein has a much wider meaning and it is not possible to call in aid these decisions for the purpose of interpretation of Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act Nevertheless the reasoning of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in the light of those Decisions does call for consideration. The decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court is based on the ground that refusal to go into the claim of damages to the car amounted to refusal to make an award and the refusal to make an award amounted to making an award. That conclusion may be valid in the particular circumstances of that case. In fact that is how the counsel for the appellant in that case had placed his case. But assuming that the decision defines the word 'award' so as to cover an order refusing to enquire into and adjudicate on the ground of want of jurisdiction, that view cannot, with respect, be accepted for the reasons earlier indicated,
16. For the reasons earlier discussed I hold that the order of the Claims Tribunal dated 26-7-1965 was not an award as contemplated by Section 110-D of the Act.