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Smt. Bimla Debi Jalan and anr. Vs. Raja Ram Shaw and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles;Civil
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal from Original Order No. 545 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1977Cal338
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Section 110 and 110F
AppellantSmt. Bimla Debi Jalan and anr.
RespondentRaja Ram Shaw and ors.
Appellant AdvocateBhabesh Chandra Mitter and ;Aruna Mukherjee, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateP.K. Sengupta, ;Jolly Sett, Advs. (for No. 2) Manju Roychoudhury, Adv. (for Nos. 2 (a)-2 (c)
Disposition Appeal allowed
Cases ReferredK. Gopalkrishnan v. Shankara Narayana
Excerpt:
- .....dalmia iron & steel co. ltd., was not a 'public place' within sub-section (24) of section 2 of the motor vehicles act, 1939. but the tribunal was further of the view that under section 110 of the said act, the tribunal had jurisdiction to adjudicate upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents occurring at places which were not public places. in the premises, the tribunal came to the conclusion that the tribunal had jurisdiction to entertain the claim. being aggrieved by the aforesaid decision of the tribunal, the respondent no. 1 being the owner of the motor vehicle moved an application under article 226 of the constitution and obtained a rule nisi. the ruleultimately came up for hearing before d. basu, j. and was disposed of by an order made and judgment passed on 31st may,.....
Judgment:

Sabyasachi Mukharji, J.

1. Murlidhar Jalan met with an accident on the 28th October, 1963 within the compound of the factory of Messrs. Dalmia Iron & Steel Co. Ltd., Khardah. As a result of the injuries suffered by the said accident, he died on the 2nd November, 1963. His mother and his minor widow preferred a claim before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. Howrah against the owner of the vehicle as well as against the Insurance Company. Issues were raised and settled. One of the preliminary issues that was raised before the Tribunal was whether the Tribunal had jurisdiction to entertain the claim. The Tribunal tried the said issue as a preliminary issue. The Tribunal came to the conclusion that the factory premises of Messrs. Dalmia Iron & Steel Co. Ltd., was not a 'public place' within Sub-section (24) of Section 2 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. But the Tribunal was further of the view that under Section 110 of the said Act, the Tribunal had jurisdiction to adjudicate upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents occurring at places which were not public places. In the premises, the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the Tribunal had jurisdiction to entertain the claim. Being aggrieved by the aforesaid decision of the Tribunal, the respondent No. 1 being the owner of the Motor Vehicle moved an application under Article 226 of the Constitution and obtained a rule nisi. The ruleultimately came up for hearing before D. Basu, J. and was disposed of by an order made and judgment passed on 31st May, 1967. The judgment, however, is not available. We had caused searches to be made for the judgment in the records of this Court as well as before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal but without any success. The parties were also unable to furnish any copy of the judgment. In the premises, it was not possible to reconstruct the judgment. But we have been able to gather the reasons or the grounds upon which the learned Judge disposed of the application from the arguments advanced by the learned advocates appearing on behalf of the parties. D. Basu, J. held that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction as the accident in question occurred at a place which was not a public place and, therefore, he made the Rule absolute. This appeal arises from the said decision of D. Basu, J.

2. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 is an Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to Motor Vehicles. Sub-section (24) of Section 2 defines public place. The said definition is to the following effect:

'(24) 'public place' means a road, street, way or other place, whether a thoroughfare or not, to which the public have a right of access, and includes any place or stand at which passengers are picked up or set down by a stage carriage;'

The Act also defines 'public service vehicles'. But we are concerned in this case with Section 110 which deals with the setting up of the Claims Tribunals. Sub-section (1) of Section 110 provides that the State Government might, by notification constitute one or more Accident Claims Tribunal for such area as might be specified in the notification '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, or damages to any property of a third party so arising or both.' The proviso to the said Section provides that if such claim includes a claim for compensation in respect of damage to property exceeding Rs. 2,000, the claimant might, at his discretion, refer the claim to a civil court for adjudication, and where a reference is so made, the Claims Tribunal should have no jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to such claim. Section 110-A deals with application for compensation and provides the manner of the making of the application. Section 110-AA deals with option given regarding claims for compensation in certain cases. It is not necessary for us to refer in detail to the other Sections in Chapter VIII dealing with claims and the awards that would be made by the Tribunal. But Chapter VIII also contains the obligation of insuring the Motor Vehicles against third party risks, Section 94 stipulates that no person shall use except as a passenger or cause or allow any other person to use a Motor Vehicle in a public place, unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person or that other person as the case may be, a policy of insurance complying with the requirements of the Chapter. Sections 95A, 96, 97, 98, 99, 103 and 106 deal with the effect of such insurance policy and the obligation of the insurer to be liable for such policy. On behalf of the respondents it was contended that an insurer was liable only if the accident occurred in a public place. Secondly, it was emphasised that the obligation to have the vehicles registered arose only if the vehicles plied in public places.

3. The liability for damage is, however not limited to accidents occurring only in public places. That liability might arise under the law of Torts or under the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act. How that liability has to be adjudicated in respect of accident arising out of the use of the Motor Vehicle has been provided by Section 110. Section 110 does not limit that jurisdiction only to accidents occurring in public places. The jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunals is for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents (not limited to particular places) involving the death or bodily injury to or persons arising out of use of Motor Vehicles. The scope of this section has to be understood in conjunction with Section 110-F of the Act. Therefore, from the fact that the liabilities of insurers are limited only to accidents occurring in public places, it cannot be inferred that the jurisdiction of the Claims Tribunals is also restricted to accidents taking place in public places. In the aforesaid view of the matter, we are unable to accept the position that the Claims Tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain this claim. This view we are taking is in consonance with the views of the Mysore High Court in the case of K. Hanumantha Rao v. National Aeronautical Laboratory, 1973 ACJ 78 : (AIR 1974 Mys 16) and of the bench decision of the Madras High Court in the case of K. Gopalkrishnan v. Shankara Narayana, : AIR1968Mad436 .

4. In the aforesaid view of the matter, this appeal is allowed, the judgment of the learned trial Judge, which is unfortunately not available, is set aside and the rule nisi is discharged. The Claims Trinal is directed to dispose of the matter as expeditiously as possible.

5. In the facts and circumstances of this case, there will be no order as to costs.

6. Let this order be communicated to the Claims Tribunal as quickly as possible.

M.M. Dutt, J.

7. I agree.


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