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Mohammed Habibullah and anr. Vs. K. Seethammal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1966)2MLJ378
AppellantMohammed Habibullah and anr.
RespondentK. Seethammal
Cases ReferredSri Ram Pratap v. Punjab Roadways
Excerpt:
- - 1. we are fully satisfied, after a careful consideration of the arguments urged by the learned counsel for the appellants, that this letters patent appeal ought not to be admitted......be filed by the owner of a motor vehicle and by the insurance company, with regard to a case of a fatal motor accident, which gave rise to a justifiable claim for compensation. not merely the claims tribunal constituted under the motor vehicles act, which went into the question, but also the learned judge (venkatadri, j.,) who heard the civil miscellaneous appeal, both came to the 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.2. the main argument pressed before us was that the claimant was the married sister of the victim, a bachelor who died without leaving a child, parents or any other heir. our attention was then drawn to the provisions of the.....
Judgment:

M. Anantanarayanan, C.J.

1. We are fully satisfied, after a careful consideration of the arguments urged by the learned Counsel for the appellants, that this Letters Patent Appeal ought not to be admitted. The facts are clear. The appeal is sought to be filed by the owner of a motor vehicle and by the Insurance Company, with regard to a case of a fatal motor accident, which gave rise to a justifiable claim for compensation. Not merely the Claims Tribunal constituted under the Motor Vehicles Act, which went into the question, but also the learned Judge (Venkatadri, J.,) who heard the Civil Miscellaneous Appeal, both came to the 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.

2. The main argument pressed before us was that the claimant was the married sister of the victim, a bachelor who died without leaving a child, parents or any other heir. Our attention was then drawn to the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act (XIII of 1855), under Section 1-A of which an action of that kind should be brought forward by an ' executor, administrator or representative of the person deceased '. There are authorities of High Courts, into which we need not proceed here, since this proposition is not really relevant for our purpose, that the word ' representative ' in Section 1-A, does not mean a legal representative of the kind contemplated in the Civil Procedure Code, but must have reference to the earlier words in the same section, ' for the benefit of the wife, husband, parent and child '. There is much to be said for the view that, if this Central Act XIII of 1855 is to govern the claim, a married sister of the victim, who died a bachelor without leaving behind a wife, child or parents cannot bring forward a claim of this sort for her own benefit.

3. But the law has not been stationary since that Central Act was enacted in 1855. On the contrary, there has been considerable development since then, and it is also obvious that, in the subsequent century that has elapsed, the volume of motor traffic and the statistics of motor accidents, fatal or otherwise, must both have originated and increased beyond all proportions. In this perspective, the Legislature has deliberately enacted the Motor Vehicles Act, and provided by virtue of Sections 110 to 110-F of that Act, not merely a self-contained code for the adjudication of claims to compensation on behalf of the victims of a motor accident, but also a complete machinery for the adjudication of such instances. Under Section 110-F, the jurisdiction of the civil Court is specifically ousted by the Claims Tribunal for the area. The claim in the present case is under Sections 110 to 110-F of the Motor Vehicles Act. It has no connection whatever with the Indian Fatal Accidents Act (XIII of 1855) and is not advanced under any section or provision of that Act. It is noteworthy that Sections 110 to 110-F that we have referred to, make no mention of any kind concerning any of the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act, and do not incorporate any such provision even by the most oblique reference.

4. Notwithstanding all this, and notwithstanding the fact, which is undeniable, that under Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, an application for compensation arising out of an accident can be put forward ' by the legal representatives of the deceased ', the ground is urged that the Fatal Accidents Act (XIII of 1855) ousts the relevant provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. We are unable to accept this argument, and it is not related to the structure of either Act. On the contrary, the relevant part of the Motor Vehicles Act is free of any reference, even obliquely, to the Fatal Accidents Act. An argument is further advanced that the Motor Vehicles Act (Sections 110 to 110-F) does not lay down any new liability; it only provides for machinery for the adjudication of claims to compensation. Certain observations of the Punjab High Court in Sri Ram Pratap v. Punjab Roadways, Ambala are relied upon, in support. We have looked into this decision, and we do not find there any reference to the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act, as excluding the application of the Motor Vehicles Act. It is true that the learned Judge states that Sections 110 to 110-F of the Motor Vehicles Act do not supersede the cardinal principles of liability in tort. But that observation was made, in the context of a situation when it had to be considered whether it was necessary or not necessary to establish, in support of a claim for compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act, that the accident was the result of negligence on the part of the owner or driver of the vehicle. In the present case, we have already affirmed that, on the merits, both the Claims Tribunal and the learned Judge found that this was an accident which could give rise to a claim for compensation under the law. The only point was whether the claim could be advanced by the married sister of the deceased, who died a bachelor. It can certainly be so advanced, since Section 110-A definitely provides for the foundation of a claim by any legal representative of the victim of the accident.

5. We have also been invited to consider the argument that the non-joinder of the driver of the vehicle, as a party to the proceedings, will vitiate the proceedings. We can find nothing in the record, or in the provisions of the Act, to justify this view. In our view this is a simple case of a claim to compensation arising out of a fatal motor accident, preferred by the immediate next-of-kin and legal representative of the victim, under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, which was justly recognised by the Courts. Neither the owner of the vehicle, nor the Insurance company, can be said to have suffered any prejudice, or to have sustained any ground of grievance. The Letters Patent Appeal is dismissed.


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