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Ukadbhai Vallabhbhai Halpati and anr. Vs. Navrang Transport and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1978)19GLR389
AppellantUkadbhai Vallabhbhai Halpati and anr.
RespondentNavrang Transport and ors.
Excerpt:
- - it would thus appear that the grounds for not making an application in the prescribed time are to be set out in the application itself and under the proviso to sub-section (3) of section 110a, the tribunal may entertain the application after the prescribed time limit if it is satisfied, on the basis of the grounds disclosed as aforesaid, that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time. the case is one which clearly discloses jurisdictional error which, in the interests of justice, requires to be corrected in exercise of my revisional jurisdiction......since the petitioners, instead of adopting such a course, had sent the application by registered post, the application must be treated as having not been validly presented. the question is whether this view of the tribunal, which is based upon interpretation of the relevant provisions of law, is correct, for if it is not, by an erroneous view of the legal provisions, the tribunal has refused to exercise jurisdiction which vested in it.3. now, it appears to me that the tribunal fell into an error in treating the application for condonation of delay as an application unconnected with the application for compensation and in treating it as a substantive proceedings and, on the basis of that reasoning, in holding that rule 291 was not applicable and that what applied was rule 310. in this.....
Judgment:

P.D. Desai, J.

1. This Revision Application is directed against an order of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Surat, rejecting an application made by the petitioners for condoning the delay in presenting application for compensation under Section 110A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'). The application in question was not rejected on merits but on a technical ground, namely, that since it was sent by registered post and not presented in person or by a recognised agent or by a pleader appearing, applying or acting on behalf of the petitioners, the application was not tenable.

2. In reaching the aforesaid conclusion, the Tribunal adopted the following reasoning: (1) that under Sub-section (2) of Section 110-C and Rule 294 of the Bombay Motor Vehicles Rules, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Rules) the Tribunal-has the powers of a Civil Court, and it is competent to exercise such powers in so far as the same are not inconsistent with the provisions of the Act and the Rules (2) that so far as entertainment of an application for condonation of delay was concerned, no specific rule was framed; (3) that Rule 291 which related only to the main application for compensation was not applicable; (4) that, under the circumstances, Rule 310 was attracted and, accordingly, the Tribunal was required to follow the procedure laid down in the Civil Procedure Code for the trial of suits; (5) that under Order 3, Rule 1, C.P.C. any application in or to any Court, required or authorized by law to be made in such Court, except where otherwise expressly provided by any law for the time being in force, was required to be made by the party in person, or by his recognized agent, or by a pleader appearing, applying or acting on his behalf; and (6) that, therefore, it was incumbent on the petitioners to have presented the application for condonation of delay either in person or through a recognized agent or pleader and that since the petitioners, instead of adopting such a course, had sent the application by registered post, the application must be treated as having not been validly presented. The question is whether this view of the Tribunal, which is based upon interpretation of the relevant provisions of law, is correct, for if it is not, by an erroneous view of the legal provisions, the Tribunal has refused to exercise jurisdiction which vested in it.

3. Now, it appears to me that the Tribunal fell into an error in treating the application for condonation of delay as an application unconnected with the application for compensation and in treating it as a substantive proceedings and, on the basis of that reasoning, in holding that Rule 291 was not applicable and that what applied was Rule 310. In this connection, it requires to be noted that under Section 110A(2), every application for compensation has to be made to the Tribunal having juris-diction over the area in which the accident occurred and it is required to be made in such form and to contain such particulars as may be prescribed. Rule 291(1) provides that an application for compensation arising out accident of the nature specified in Sub-section (1) of Section 110 by persons specified in Sub-section (1) of Section 110A made to the Tribunal having, jurisdiction over the area in which the accident occurred shall be in form Comp. A to the Rules and shall contain the particulars specified in that form. The prescribed form Comp. A prescribes the various particulars which the applicant has to furnish and one of the particulars which is required to be furnished is the grounds for not making claim for compensation within the prescribed time limit from the date of the accident. This particular is to be furnished in column 14 in the prescribed form. It would thus appear that the grounds for not making an application in the prescribed time are to be set out in the application itself and under the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 110A, the Tribunal may entertain the application after the prescribed time limit if it is satisfied, on the basis of the grounds disclosed as aforesaid, that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time. It would thus appear that the only requirement of law is that the grounds for not preferring an application for compensation within time have to be stated in the body of the application itself. It is under these circumstances that no provision has been made for filing and entertaining a separate application for condonation of delay. Even if a party has made such a separate application, it will have to be treated as a part and parcel of the main application and the grounds set out in such application mil have to be read as having been furnished in the application in column 14 of the prescribed form. Once this legal position is appreciated, it will become clear that the only Rule which can apply, in the circumstances such as are present in this case, is Rule 291(2). The said Rule, inter alia provides that every application for compensation made under Sub-rule (1) shall be sent to the Tribunal or to the Chairman in case the Tribunal consists of more than one member, by registered post or may be presented to such member of the staff of the Tribunal as the Tribunal, or as the case may be, the Chairman may authorise for the purposes. The presentation to the Tribunal of an application which has as its accompaniment a document which sets out the grounds for condonation of delay and which document has to be treated as a part and parcel of the main application itself can, therefore, be validly made by registered post and no such application can be rejected on the ground that the law requires to be presented in person or through a recognized agent or a pleader.

4. Apart from this, the Tribunal ought to have appreciated that even if an application for condonation of delay is treated as a substantive proceeding, it cannot still cease to be a proceeding connected with the main application for compensation. If, under the relevant rules, the application for compensation itself could be sent by registered post, it would be strange to hold that a cognate application could not be sent by registered post. The Tribunal, instead of resorting to Order 3, Rule 1 by means of Rule 310, ought to have applied to such an application the procedure for presentation prescribed in Rule 291.

5. Above all is the consideration of justice. Rules of procedure, as has been often said, are handmaid of justice. They have to subserve the cause of justice. They are not intended to subvert it. All that the law requires is that the Tribunal should be apprised of the grounds for delay. For the ends of justice, it matters little as to how it was apprised of it. The procedural rule relating to the manner of presentation of an application to an authority is ordinarily made to ensure that the application reaches the authority without any danger of its being lost or misplaced. That rule cannot possibly be invoked to refuse to entertain an application which has already reached the authority. In these days, registered post is used for diverse purposes including service of summons by the Courts. There is no reason, therefore, as to why a Tribunal should refuse to entertain an application for condonation of delay sent to it by registered post.

6. In the view which I am taking I am supported by the decision of Surti, J. in Civil Revision Application No. 830 of 1976 decided on August 26, 1976. In that case, the same Tribunal had taken a similar view with regard to an application to prosecute the claim petition in forma pauperis which was forwarded to it under registered post. Surti, J. held, relying upon Rule 291, that an application of that nature presented by registered post must be taken to have been validly presented and that it was not necessary for a person intending to sue in forma pauperis to present such application in person before the Tribunal.

7. The foregoing discussion would show that the Tribunal, by an erroneous interpretation and application of the relevant rules of procedure declined to entertain an application which was validly presented to it, the result of which was that the claim petition itself became infructuous. The case is one which clearly discloses jurisdictional error which, in the interests of justice, requires to be corrected in exercise of my revisional jurisdiction.

7.1 In the result, the Revision Application succeeds and is allowed. The impugned decision of the Tribunal is quashed and set aside. The Tribunal is directed to treat the application for condonation of delay as having been Validly presented to it as a part and parcel of the application for compensation and it is directed to proceed to deal with the same in .accordance with law.

8. Rule is made absolute with no order as to costs para (10). Some time has obviously elapsed in this procedural wrangle, with the result that the application for compensation, which requires to be disposed of as expeditiously as possible, has remained untried. The Tribunal will therefore, give priority to the application and it will dispose if of as expeditiously as possible,


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