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Farsubhai Altaphai Saiyed and ors. Vs. Dullabhabhai Bhagabhai Patel - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn, Appln. No. 1349 of 1968
Judge
Reported inAIR1972Guj244; (1972)0GLR674
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110(1), 110-A, 110-F and 116-F
AppellantFarsubhai Altaphai Saiyed and ors.
RespondentDullabhabhai Bhagabhai Patel
Appellant Advocate K.C. Shah, Adv. for; M.C. Shah, Adv.
Respondent Advocate B.J. Shethna, Adv. for; K.J. Shethna, Adv.
Cases ReferredOm Prakash Mishra v. National Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd.
Excerpt:
.....mentioned in section 110 (1) - plaintiff not falling under any of class - no jurisdiction of claims tribunal - civil court had jurisdiction to entertain such suit. - - ' the claims tribunal would, therefore, have jurisdiction to adjudicate upon a claim for compensation provided three conditions are satisfied, namely, (i) the claim for compensation is in respect of an accident; now the words 'involving the death of, or bodily injury to' are clearly limitative of 'accident' and they do not limit the nature of the claim for compensation. but it is a well-settled rule of interpretation of a statutory provision that it should be construed ex visceribus actus, that is, within the four corners of the statute. it is to be viewed in connection with its whole context, meaning by this as..........cj 338 (guj). the same position would also obtain where the legal representatives of a deceased claim compensation not only in respect of death of the deceased but also in respect of damage to the property of the deceased. but where an application for compensation is only in respect of damage to property caused by the accident and it is made by a person who has not sustained bodily injury or who is not the legal representative of a person who has died as a result of the accident, the claims tribunal would not have jurisdiction to entertain such an application for compensation, for the person who makes such an application for compensation would not fall within one of the three categories of persons entitled to make an application for compensation under section 110-a.9. this view which.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. The short question that arises for determination in this Revision Application is whether the Civil Court has jurisdiction to entertain an action instituted by a plaintiff who has not suffered bodily injury as a result of an accident arising out of the use of motor vehicle but whose property is damaged as a result of the accident. The fact giving rise to the Revision Application are few and may be briefly stated as follows.

2. The plaintiff is the owner of a Scooter bearing No. M.R.A. 1305. On 26th April, 1967 the Scooter was being driver by a friend of the plaintiff named Kevalbhai Bhagwandas Parmar and there was also one other person sitting behind Kevalbhai Bhagwandas Parmar on the pinion of the Scooter. Whilst the scooter was being driven Kevalbhai Bhagwandas Parmar, one motor truck bearing No. G.T.A.527 collided with it and considerable damage was caused to the scooter as a result of the accident. Kevalbhai Bhagwandas Parmar and the person sitting behind him also received bodily injuries and for claiming compensation for such bodily injuries, they filed an application under Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. The plaintiff taking the view that he was not entitled to file an application under Section 110-A for claiming compensation for the damage caused to the Scooter instituted suit No.222 of 1967 in the Court of the Civil Judge, Junior Division, Navasari. The plaintiff claimed that the accident was caused on account of rash and negligent driving on the part of the Driver of the motor truck and the plaintiff was entitled to claim damages from the owner and the driver of the motor truck for the loss sustained by him on account of damage to the scooter.

3. The defendants resisted the suit of various grounds, one of which was that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit in view of Section 110-F and the only remedy of the plaintiff was to make an application for compensation under Section 110-A. The defendants invited the learned Trial Judge to try the issue of jurisdiction as a preliminary issue and since the issue of jurisdiction was a pure issue of law, the learned Trial Judge tried it as a preliminary issue and came to the conclusion that the claim for compensation made by the plaintiff in the suit was not liable to be adjudicated upon by the Claims Tribunal under Section 110 and the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to entertain the suit was, therefore, not excluded. This decision given by the learned Trial Judge is assailed in the present Revision Application.

4. The question which arises for determination is whether the Civil Court has jurisdiction to entertain a claim for compensation made by an owner of property which is damaged in an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle. The determination of this question depends on a true interpretation of certain provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. Section 110-F provides for exclusion of jurisdiction of the Civil court by enacting that where any Claims Tribunal has been consisted for any area, no civil Court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to any claim for compensation which may be adjudicated upon by the Claims Tribunal for that area. The jurisdiction of the Civil Court is thus excluded, only in so far as it concerns any question relating to any claim for compensation which may be adjudicated upon by the claims Tribunal for the area concerned. It is not any and every claim for compensation which is excluded from the jurisdiction of the Civil Court but only such claim as can be adjudicated upon by the Claims Tribunal. To the extent to which any claim for compensation can be adjudicated upon by the Claims Tribunal, it would be outside the jurisdiction of the Civil Court.

5. It is, therefore, necessary to examine what is the jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunal under the Act. Section 110 (1), as it stood at the material time prior to its amendment which came into force from 2nd March, 1970, provided that the State Government may constitute a Claims Tribunal

'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.'

The Claims Tribunal would, therefore, have jurisdiction to adjudicate upon a claim for compensation provided three conditions are satisfied, namely, (i) the claim for compensation is in respect of an accident; (ii) the accident must be one involving the death of, or bodily injury to, a person; and (iii) it must arise out of the use of a motor vehicle. Now the words 'involving the death of, or bodily injury to' are clearly limitative of 'accident' and they do not limit the nature of the claim for compensation. These words do not require that the claim for compensation must be for death of, or bodily injury to, a person. The only requirement of the Section is that the claim for compensation must be in respect of an accident and the accident must be one involving the death of, or bodily injury to, a person and it must arise out of the use of a motor vehicle.

6. It would, therefore, appear on a plain grammatical construction of the Section that once there is an accident involving the death of, or bodily injury to, a person and it has arisen out of the use of a motor vehicle, every claim for compensation in respect of such accident, whether it be for death or bodily injury or for damage to property caused by such accident, would be within the adjudicatory power of the Claims Tribunal and the Claims Tribunal would prima facie have jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the claim for compensation made by the plaintiff in the present case since it is plainly and indubitably a claim for compensation in respect of an accident involving bodily injuries to Kevalbhai Bhagwandas Parmar and the person sitting behind him and arising out of the use of a motor vehicle. But it is a well-settled rule of interpretation of a statutory provision that it should be construed ex visceribus actus, that is, within the four corners of the statute. No part of a statute should be construed in isolation, for the intention of the Legislature is to be found not in one part of the statute or the other but in the whole of the statute and the meaning of a statutory provision must, therefore, be gathered by reading the statute as a whole. To quote the words of Sir John Nicholl, M.R., in Brett v. Brett, (1826) 3 Add 210:

'. . . . . . . . . to arrive at the true meaning of any particular phrase in a statute, the particular phrase is not to be viewed detached from its context in the statute; it is to be viewed in connection with its whole context, meaning by this as well the title and preamble as the purview of enacting part of the statute.'

We must, therefore, see whether there is any other provision in the Act which cuts down the apparent width and amplitude of the jurisdiction conferred upon the Claims Tribunal under Section 110 (1).

7. Such a provision is to be found is Section 110-A which lays down as to who can make an application for compensation arising out of an accident of the nature specified in Section 110 (1). That Section provides that an application for compensation arising out of an accident of the nature specified in Section 110 (1) may be made by the following three categories of persons: (a) by the person who has sustained the injury or (b) where death has resulted from the accident, by the legal representatives of the deceased; or (c) by any agent duly authorised by the person injured or the legal representatives of the deceased, as the case may be. It will be seen that an application before the Claims Tribunal can be made only by the person who has sustained the bodily injury, or the legal respresentatives of the person who has died, or his or their agent. The right to make an application for compensation is conferred only on this limited class of persons. The person who has suffered damage to his property as a result of the accident is not given the right to make an application for compensation. Though, therefore, it might appear, on reading Section 110 (1) alone and in isolation, that a claim for compensation in respect of damage to property caused by the accident would be within the jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunal, Section 110-A makes it clear that such a claim for compensation is not intended to be made before the Claims Tribunal. It is indeed difficult to see how such a claim for compensation can be adjudicated upon by the Claims Tribunal when the person who makes such a claim for compensation is denied the right of preferring an application for compensation. It is plain and incontrovertible, on a combined reading of Section 110 (1) and Section 110-A, that a claim for compensation in respect of damage to property caused by an accident of the nature specified in Section 110 (1) was not within the contemplation of the Legislature as being a claim triable by the claims Tribunal.

8. It must, of course, be made clear that where a claim for compensation in respect of damage to property caused by the accident is made by a person who has also sustained bodily injury or by the legal representatives of a person who has died as a result of the accident, such a claim for compensation would be within the jurisdiction of the claims Tribunal. Since in such a case the person whose property has been damaged is also a person who has sustained bodily injury, he would be entitled to make an application for compensation and such an application may comprise not only claim for compensation in respect of bodily injury but also claim for compensation in respect of damage to property, because both kinds of claims would be within the jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunal under Section 110 (1). This was the view taken and, if I may say to rightly by Mr. Justice J.B. Mehta in Joshi Ratanshi Gopalji v. Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation, 1968 Acc CJ 338 (Guj). The same position would also obtain where the legal representatives of a deceased claim compensation not only in respect of death of the deceased but also in respect of damage to the property of the deceased. But where an application for compensation is only in respect of damage to property caused by the accident and it is made by a person who has not sustained bodily injury or who is not the legal representative of a person who has died as a result of the accident, the Claims Tribunal would not have jurisdiction to entertain such an application for compensation, for the person who makes such an application for compensation would not fall within one of the three categories of persons entitled to make an application for compensation under Section 110-A.

9. This view which I am taking is supported by a decision of a Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Om Prakash Mishra v. National Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd., AIR 1962 Madh Pra 19, where a Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court analysed the provisions of Sections 110 (1) and 110-A and laid down the following four propositions which appeared to them to emerge on a combined reading of these two Sections:--

'(1) If no death or personal injury results, in an accident arising out of the use of motor vehicles, the claim for compensation for loss suffered in property alone is not tenable before a Claims Tribunal, such a claim is to be made in a Civil Court.

(2) If death or personal injury results in an accidents arising out of the use of motor vehicles, on the basis of express wordings used in these sections, the claim for compensation for such loss suffered has to be made before the Claims Tribunal and it cannot be tried in a Civil Court.

(3) Loss or damage of property may be suffered by a person who has not been given a right to make an application under the provisions of Section 110-A of the Act to the Claims Tribunal. In such a case, obviously no application lies to the claims Tribunal and the only remedy will be in a Civil court.

(4) Lastly, there may be cases of composite injuries in which, in the accident arising out of the use of motor vehicles death or personal injury may have result and at the same time, there may be loss or damage suffered in the property by the person who has suffered personal injury or where death has resulted from the accident, loss may be sustained by the deceased or by his legal representative. If the claim is for compensation of such a composite nature for the injuries suffered bodily or on account of death together with the claim for compensation for loss or damage suffered in property, in our view it is triable by the claims Tribunal.'

10. The third proposition is the one which is relevant and applicable in the present case and for reasons which I have already discussed, I am entirely in agreement with it. I am, therefore, of the view that the claim made by the plaintiff in the present case was not within the jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunal under Section 110 (1) since the plaintiff was neither a person who sustained bodily injury nor was he the legal representative of a person who suffered death as a result of the accident and he was accordingly not entitled to maintain an application for compensation under Section 110-A. The jurisdiction of the civil Court to entertain the claim for compensation made by the plaintiff cannot, in the circumstances, be held to be excluded under Section 110-F. The learned Trial Judge was, therefore, clearly right in taking the view that the Civil Court had jurisdiction to entertain the suit instituted by the plaintiff for claiming compensation in respect of damage caused to his scooter as a result of the accident.

11. The Revision application, therefore, fails and the rule is discharged with costs.

12. Revision fails.


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