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Annamalai Mudaliar Vs. Perumal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1969)1MLJ335
AppellantAnnamalai Mudaliar
RespondentPerumal and ors.
Cases ReferredM. K. Subramania v. K. Gopalakrishna and Ors.
Excerpt:
.....justified when the legislature has expressly provided for the recovery of amounts covered by the award from the insurer as envisaged in section 110-e. evidently no such provision has been made as a party would generally be satisfied by getting his claims enforced by proceeding summarily against the insurer on the strength of the collector's certificate obtained in pursuance of the award. the instant case should obviously be an eye opener to the competent authority to suitably modify or amend the act so as to make it feasible for persons like the respondents who have lost their parents or near and dear relations in the fatal accident to realise the fruits of their labour through the ordinary process of law. in this case, i directed the additional government pleader to address a letter..........is argued in these petitions is whether the award secured by the respondents from the accidents claims tribunal constituted under the motor vehicles act, can be executed in a civil court. the respondents filed execution petitions on the foot of the award secured by them from the accidents claims tribunal, in the court of the district judge, salem. an objection was raised by the petitioner that the execution petition is not maintainable in the civil court as there is no provision for such execution of an award under the motor vehicles act. the learned district judge, however, thought that the civil procedure code, is applicable to the execution of such awards through the media of civil courts, and held that the execution petitions were maintainable. as against the said order, the owner.....
Judgment:

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. In this batch of Civil Revision Petitions, an interesting question has been raised, but the result, however, as is to be presently demonstrated, is very unfortunate. The petitioner in all these petitions is the same and is the owner of motor vehicles. The respondents are the legal representatives of three deceased persons who were involved in a fatal accident. The question that is argued in these petitions is whether the award secured by the respondents from the Accidents Claims Tribunal constituted under the Motor Vehicles Act, can be executed in a civil Court. The respondents filed execution petitions on the foot of the award secured by them from the Accidents Claims Tribunal, in the Court of the District Judge, Salem. An objection was raised by the petitioner that the Execution Petition is not maintainable in the civil Court as there is no provision for such execution of an award under the Motor Vehicles Act. The learned District Judge, however, thought that the Civil Procedure Code, is applicable to the execution of such awards through the media of civil Courts, and held that the execution petitions were maintainable. As against the said order, the owner of the vehicles, the petitioner herein has come up to this Court canvassing the legality of the said order.

2. Mr. Venkataswami, learned Counsel for the petitioner, contends that the Motor Vehicles Act is a self-contained code by itself and in the absence of any provision therein enabling a claimant to file the award secured by him or her from the Accident Claims Tribunal in the ordinary civil Court of the land (for purpose of execution) no relief as such in execution can be obtained by the claimant. He relied upon certain provisions of the Act and the rules made thereunder and contends that the order of the learned District Judge is vitiated. The respondents, however, contending contra, would state that once execution of an order of a tribunal is entrusted in the hands of civil Courts which are the ordinary Courts of the land, then the normal principle that the common law of the land is automatically attracted should apply to the instant case and in this view the execution petitions are maintainable.

3. It is no doubt a normal norm of law that if once matters are entrusted to a civil Court for purposes of adjudication and disposal, then the law which governs such civil Courts would apply in the absence of any specific prohibition or interdict in that behalf. Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal is constituted under section no of the Motor Vehicles Act, and it has the power to deal with applications for compensation arising out of an accident of the nature specified in Section 110. Such accidents may involve death or bodily injury to persons. Section 110-B enables the Claims Tribunal to pass what is characterised as an ' award.' For purposes of the present discussion, we are not concerned with Sections 110-C and 110-B. Section 110-E however has to be necessarily quoted. It says:

Where any money is due from an insurer under an award, the claims tribunal may, on an application made to it by the person entitled to the money issue a certificate for the amount to the Collector and the Collector shall proceed to recover the same in the same manner as an arrear of land revenue.

4. Under this provision, any award of the Claims Tribunal, in so far as it concern an insurer, is executable, in the sense that the claimants may obtain a certificate for the purpose from the Claims Tribunal, on the basis of which the Collector of the district concerned is empowered to proceed to recover the same as if it is an arrear of land revenue. Under Rule 18 of the Madras Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal Rules, the several provisions of the First Schedule to the Civil Procedure Code, and mentioned therein, are made applicable to proceedings before the Claims Tribunal. It is Significant, however, to note that order 21 relating to execution of decrees and orders is conspicuously absent in Rule 18 of the above rules. It is in such a conspectus of the statutory provisions that the argument is advanced by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that execution petitions are not maintainable in a civil Court as there is a specific exclusion as regards the applicability of Order 21, Civil Procedure Code, to proceedings before the Claims Tribunal. The argument is not only well founded, but is also justified when the Legislature has expressly provided for the recovery of amounts covered by the award from the insurer as envisaged in Section 110-E.

5. Obviously there is a lacuna in the Act in that there is no specific provision to execute the award of the Claims Tribunal through the media of a civil Court as against persons other than the insurer. That such a lacuna does exist has been pointed out by a Division Bench of this Court in K. Gopalakrishna v. Sankaranarayanan and Ors. C.M.A. No. 358 of 1964; M. K. Subramania v. K. Gopalakrishna and Ors.' C.M.A. No. 399 of 1964. It is apposite to extract an excerpt therein which is very pertinent:

But if really no machinery is provided for in Chapter VIII of the Act, the remedy of the claimant is only to file a suit on the award, which creates a debt against the driver of the vehicle and such a suit would not be barred by reason of Section 110-F of the Act. It is for the Legislature to make provision in Chapter VIII of the Act, for enforcing claims against other parties such as the driver. Evidently no such provision has been made as a party would generally be satisfied by getting his claims enforced by proceeding summarily against the insurer on the strength of the Collector's certificate obtained in pursuance of the award.

In the instant case, however, it is very unfortunate that the insurer has been exonerated and hence the complication.

6. That there is a lacuna in the Act in so far as the realisation of the fruits of the award of the Claims Tribunal by a claimant as against a person other than the insurer is very conspicuous. The instant case should obviously be an eye opener to the competent authority to suitably modify or amend the Act so as to make it feasible for persons like the respondents who have lost their parents or near and dear relations in the fatal accident to realise the fruits of their labour through the ordinary process of law. If such persons are driven to the necessity of filing suits and facing litigation, then the very purpose of the award of the Claims Tribunal would be lost. In this case, I directed the Additional Government Pleader to address a letter to the concerned authorities to take up the matter forthwith and see that necessary amendments are made to the statute or the rules so that the consequential reliefs may be efficaciously enjoyed by persons who deservedly are entitled to its fruits. It appears that a letter has been sent by the learned Additional Government Pleader, but it is not known what action has been taken. It is imperative that this gulf should be bridged as early as possible.

7. With greatest restraint and being compelled to do so, I am disagreeing with the order of the learned District Judge. It is also desirable that when the Legislature undertakes to amend the present law it should take care to see that the unfortunate victims or their legal representatives, as the case may be, are not to be deprived of their legitimate rights of compensation by technical rules such as limitation, etc. With these observations, the Civil Revision Petitions are allowed. There will be no order as to costs.


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