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Sunil Kumar Vs. Laxman Singh and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Appeal No. 1320 of 1999
Judge
Reported in2003ACJ1982; 2002(4)WLC271
AppellantSunil Kumar
RespondentLaxman Singh and anr.
Appellant Advocate Ajay Gupta, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Biri Singh and; R.S. Agarwal, Advs.
Cases ReferredMadineni Kondaiah v. Yaseen Fatima
Excerpt:
- - 10. it has been clearly held that section 94 of the act is intended to give protection to a third party in respect of death or bodily injury or damages to their property while using the vehicle in a public place. , person (owner), property (vehicles) and third parties is clearly in the nature of a composite one. ..from what has been stated above, it is abundantly clear that both under the old act as well as under the new act the legislature was anxious to protect the third party (victim) interest......date of filing of the claim petition. however, the tribunal held that the respondent no. 2, the insurance company was not liable to make any payment of the amount of the award as the policy of insurance was not got transferred in the name of the transferee of the vehicle.3. aggrieved and dissatisfied by the award, the appellant has filed this appeal.4. i have heard learned counsel for the parties and have also perused the record and the authorities cited at the bar.5. learned counsel for the appellant has first argued that the amount of compensation awarded is too inadequate and meagre which should be enhanced. this contention has been vehemently opposed by the learned counsel for the respondents. learned tribunal has awarded rs. 75,000 as compensation to the appellant for his.....
Judgment:

Harbans Lal, J.

1. This civil misc. appeal under Section 173, Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (hereinafter called in short, 'the Act') is directed against the award dated 9.7.1999 passed by the learned Judge M.A.C.T., Neem ka Thana, Sikar in Claim Case No. 41 of 1996.

2. Briefly stated the relevant facts are that appellant Sunil Kumar was coming from Mehrauli to Reengus in a jeep No. RJ-19-C-1464 on 2.12.1995. It was being driven by the respondent No. 1, Laxman Singh, and was insured with respondent No. 2. The jeep was originally registered in the name of Heera Lal who transferred it to Laxman Singh on 8.11.1995 and entry to that effect was also made in the registration certificate. However, the cover note which was issued on 1.8.1995 in the name of Heera Lal, was not got transferred in the name of the transferee. The jeep dashed against a standing truck No. RJ-07-0306 near Math Mandir on the Jaipur-Reengus Road at 10.30 p.m. as a result of which the appellant sustained serious injuries. He filed a claim case against the respondents claiming Rs. 7,50,000 as compensation. The learned Tribunal below found that the accident was due to rash and negligent driving of the jeep by the respondent No. 1 and that the appellant was entitled to compensation of Rs. 75,000 only along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum w.e.f. 3.4.1996, the date of filing of the claim petition. However, the Tribunal held that the respondent No. 2, the insurance company was not liable to make any payment of the amount of the award as the policy of insurance was not got transferred in the name of the transferee of the vehicle.

3. Aggrieved and dissatisfied by the award, the appellant has filed this appeal.

4. I have heard learned Counsel for the parties and have also perused the record and the authorities cited at the Bar.

5. Learned Counsel for the appellant has first argued that the amount of compensation awarded is too inadequate and meagre which should be enhanced. This contention has been vehemently opposed by the learned Counsel for the respondents. Learned Tribunal has awarded Rs. 75,000 as compensation to the appellant for his injuries after considering the nature of injuries, 15 per cent permanent disability suffered by him, the amount spent by him on his treatment and involved pain and suffering due to the said injuries. I do not find any illegality or irrationality in the approach of learned Tribunal in arriving at this amount of compensation. Neither any valid and cogent ground has been mentioned in appeal nor could be canvassed at the Bar about the award being inadequate or meagre. The amount of compensation awarded in this case appears to be just, fair and reasonable and no enhancement is called for and warranted and this argument of learned Counsel for the appellant is untenable and unacceptable. Thus, so far as the quantum and rate of interest is concerned, the award deserves to be confirmed.

6. The second contention of the learned Counsel for the appellant is that the finding on issue No. 3 is illegal. In support of his contention he has cited several authorities but the question involved is squarely covered by the authoritative pronouncement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in G. Govindan v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. 1999 ACJ 781 (SC) and, therefore, it does not appear to be necessary to discuss and deal with other authorities cited by the learned Counsel for the appellant.

Learned Counsel for the respondents on the other hand, have supported the finding of the court below. They have cited the case of Ram Chander v. Naresh Kumar 2000 ACJ 727 (P&H;), which was decided by the Hon'ble Punjab and Haryana High Court on 22.2.1999 whereas the case of Hon'ble Supreme Court which has been relied upon by the learned Counsel for the appellant has been decided on 8.4.1999.

7. It may be stated at the outset, that the facts in the case are not in dispute and are rather admitted that Heera Lal was the original owner of the jeep in question who transferred it in favour of respondent No. 1, Laxman Singh who was also the driver of the jeep at the relevant time and the entry to that effect had been made in the registration certificate on 8.11.1995. The accident took place on 2.12.1995. The jeep was insured with the respondent No. 2 and the cover note was issued and confirmed to be in the name of previous owner Heera Lal and it was effective for the period 1.8.1995 to 31.7.1996 and it is also not disputed that the insurance policy or the cover note was not duly got transferred in the name of the transferee of the vehicle and no intimation of transfer of ownership of the jeep in question was given to the insurance company.

8. In the case of G. Govindan v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. (supra), the facts were almost akin and identical to the facts of this case. In that case, the motor vehicle, i.e., bus was purchased by the appellant G. Govindan from respondent No. 4, the previous owner on 15.8.1974. However, neither appellant-transferee nor the respondent No. 4 gave any notice to the respondent No. 1 insurer as required under Section 103-A of the Act. The finding of the M.A.C.T. in that case was to the effect that the insurer knew about the transfer. The accident took place on 18.5.1975 and at that time also the bus was insured in the name of the transferor. The Tribunal held the insurance company liable for payment of compensation along with the purchaser and driver of the vehicle. The Division Bench of the Madras High Court allowed the appeal and discharged the liability of the insurer from payment of compensation. The appellant-transferee approached the Hon'ble Apex Court and the Hon'ble Apex Court after noticing the conflicting views of the various High Courts considered the shape and ambit of relevant provisions of Sections 94, 95, 97, 99, 103-A, 146, 147, 149, 150 and 151 of the Act.

9. The precise question in that case as in the present case was whether the insurance policy lapses on the transfer of the vehicle and consequently the liability of the insurer ceases when the insured vehicle is transferred and no application/intimation as prescribed under Section 103-A of the Act is made/given. Their Lordships of the Hon'ble Apex Court have in the above case approved the view taken by the Full Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Madineni Kondaiah v. Yaseen Fatima 1986 ACJ 1 (AP), and have dissented with the view taken by the Karnataka and Delhi High Courts and other High Courts taking contrary view.

10. It has been clearly held that Section 94 of the Act is intended to give protection to a third party in respect of death or bodily injury or damages to their property while using the vehicle in a public place. Hence, the insurance of the vehicle under Section 94 read with Section 95 is made compulsory but these two provisions do not extend the compulsory insurance to the vehicle or to the owner. In fact, these two provisions make exceptions to protect the life or limb of the driver of the vehicle or the passenger in the vehicle except public service vehicle. Thus, it is seen that compulsory insurance is for the benefit of third parties. Hence, it is clear that the insurance policy covering three kinds of risks, i.e., person (owner), property (vehicles) and third parties is clearly in the nature of a composite one. The public liability (third party liability) alone is compulsory. While considering whether transfer of the vehicle would put an end to such a composite policy, their Lordships of Hon'ble Supreme Court have further observed as under:

We must make it clear that there are two third parties when such transfer took place. One is a transferee who is a third party to the contract and the other for whose risk the vehicle is insured. We have no hesitation to hold that the transferee who is a third party to the contract cannot secure any personal benefit under the policy unless there is a novation, i.e., the insurance company, the transferor of the vehicle, and the transferee must agree that the policy must be assigned to the transferee so that the benefit derivable, or derived under the policy by the original owner of the vehicle, the policyholder can be secured by the transferee. Thus, it is clear under a composite policy, covering the risk of property, person, third party risks, the transferee cannot enforce the policy without the assignment in his favour so far the policy covers the risk of the person and property, he has no remedy against the insurance company....

The mere passing of title in the vehicle to the transferee will not put an end to this liability....

The insurable interest in this case is not the proprietary interest but the public liability, not to run the vehicle or cause or allow any person to run the vehicle without insurance and also to notify the transfer of such vehicle to the Registering Authority....

The test is whether the liability under the statute ceased or not notwithstanding the passing of title and hence we respectfully dissent with the view expressed by various High Courts that on the sale of the vehicle the insurable interest ceases and the policy lapses. We agree that any claim of the transferee in respect of his property and his person cannot be enforced against the insurance company. He being a stranger he cannot have any claim against the insurance company. But so far as the third party risk is concerned so long the obligations under the statute are not fulfilled, as contemplated under Section 31 read with Section 94, he continues to have insurable interest till such obligations are fulfilled....

It has been made clear that when the policy of insurance obtained by the original owner of the vehicle is a composite one covering the risks for his person, property (vehicle) and the third party claim, on passing of title the transferee cannot enforce his claim in respect of any loss or damage to his person and vehicle unless there is a novation. So far the third party risk is concerned the proprietary interest in the vehicle is not necessary and the public liability continues till the transferor discharges the statutory obligation under Sections 29-A and 31 read with Section 94 of the Act. Till he complies with the requirement of Section 31 of the Act the public liability will not cease and that constitutes the insurable interest to keep the policy alive in respect of the third party risks are concerned. It must be deemed that the transferor allowed the purchaser to use the vehicle in a public place in the said transitional period and accordingly till the compliance of Section 31, the liability of the transferor subsists and the policy is in operation so far it relates to the third party risks....

From what has been stated above, it is abundantly clear that both under the old Act as well as under the new Act the legislature was anxious to protect the third party (victim) interest. It appears that what was implicit in the provisions of the old Act is now made explicit....

11. In the case of Ram Chander which has been relied upon by the learned Counsel for the respondents, it has been held that the policy had been obtained by the original owner who was not even impleaded as a party and no intimation regarding transfer of the vehicle and for the transfer of the policy was given to the insurance company and so the insurance company was not liable to make payment of the compensation awarded in the case put as indicated above this view has not been approved by the Hon'ble Apex Court and, therefore, seems to have been impliedly overruled. In view of the foregoing discussion, this appeal deserves to be allowed partly.

12. In the result, this appeal is partly allowed and award as passed by learned Tribunal below is upheld as regards the quantum of compensation but is modified to the extent that the insurance company respondent No. 2 will also be liable to make payment of compensation awarded in the case along with other respondents.


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