Skip to content


Abdul Gaffar Gujree Vs. Mohammad Phaphoo and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles;Civil
CourtJammu and Kashmir High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. No. 87-A of 1978
Judge
Reported inAIR1985J& K26
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Section 110C; ;Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Section 115
AppellantAbdul Gaffar Gujree
RespondentMohammad Phaphoo and ors.
Appellant Advocate M.L. Qazi, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Harbans Singh and; O.P. Sawhney, Advs.
DispositionRevision dismissed
Cases ReferredNagpur High Court. In Sawatram Ramprasad Mills Co. Ltd v. Vishnu Pandurang Hingnekar
Excerpt:
- .....law lexicon by venkataramaiya for the proposition. since there is a conflict of opinion in various high courts in the country on the point, therefore, it is necessary to make a reference to the case law in this judgment4. shanti devi v. the general manager, haryana roadways 1971 acc cj 247 : (air 1972 punj & har 65) (fb), is an authority for the proposition that a letters patent appeal under clause 10 lies against a decision of a single judge of the high court. in this authority a reference is made about the procedure to be adopted by the claims tribunal in matters of awarding compensation and it was held that the proceedings before the claims tribunal closely resemble to the proceedings in a civil court, and for all intents and purposes it discharges the same functions and duties as are.....
Judgment:

M.L. Bhat, J.

1. The following two questions have been referred to this Bench for determination :

(a) Whether the Claims Tribunal was a Court within the meaning of Section 115 CP.C

and

(b) Whether it was subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of that section, and therefore, a revision was maintainable against an interlocutory order of the Claims Tribunal

2. The aforesaid two questions have arisen out of an order passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Srinagar, hereinafter to be caued 'Claims Tribunal on 30-6-1978. In terms of this order evidence in rebuttal was closed and against this order a revision has been preferred to this Court

3. Arguing for the petitioner, Mr. Qazi has submitted that the Claims Tribunal is a civil Court, therefore, its orders are revisable and it is subordinate to the High Court for purposes of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. He has further submitted that the Claims Tribunal though an authority is vested with the powers to adjudicate on the civil rights of the litigants. A claim has to be preferred before the Claims Tribunal and the Claims Tribunal is bound to enquire into the claim. Thereafter give its findings on appreciation of evidence. It is stated that the Claims Tribunal has all the attributes of a civil Court, therefore, any order passed by it is to be deemed to have been passed by a civil court and provisions of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure will get attracted to such an order. In the Rules framed under the Motor Vehicles Act, the petition, which is preferred before the Claims Tribunal for award of compensation, is to be tried as a civil suit which makes it clear that the Claims Tribunal is a civil Court because it has to try petitions in the same manner in which a civil suit is to be tried His contention is that since the Claims Tribunal has power to record evidence, therefore it must be held to be a civil court. He has relied on Biswas's Law Dictionary, 1982 edition and Law Lexicon by Venkataramaiya for the proposition. Since there is a conflict of opinion in various High Courts in the country on the point, therefore, it is necessary to make a reference to the case law in this judgment

4. Shanti Devi v. The General Manager, Haryana Roadways 1971 Acc CJ 247 : (AIR 1972 Punj & Har 65) (FB), is an authority for the proposition that a Letters Patent Appeal under Clause 10 lies against a decision of a single Judge of the High Court. In this authority a reference is made about the procedure to be adopted by the Claims Tribunal in matters of awarding compensation and it was held that the proceedings before the Claims Tribunal closely resemble to the proceedings in a civil Court, and for all intents and purposes it discharges the same functions and duties as are assigned to a civil Court

5. Shardaben v. M L Pandya, 1971 Acc CJ 222 : (AIR 1971 Guj 151), is an authority for the proposition that the Claims Tribunal is for all intents and purposes a civil Court, and therefore, it should follow the procedure laid down in the C.P.C Order 33 of the C.P.C was held to be applicable to the Claims Tribunal It was further held that the Claims Tribunal possesses all attributes of a civil Court and it has to decide the claims on the basis of legal evidence in accordance with law by a definitive final judgment and it discharges the same functions and duties in the same manner as a civil Court is expected to do. Therefore, it must be held to be a Court of law to which Code of Civil Procedure would clearly apply and by invoking Section 141 of the Code of Civil Procedure Order 33 of the Code would apply to the proceedings before the Claims Tribunal .

6. In Hukam Chand Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Subhashini Roy, 1971 Acc CJ 156 (Cal), it is held that the word Court appearing in Section 96(2) to the Motor Vehicles Act, should be interpreted to mean Claims Tribunal for the purpose of proceedings Under Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act

7. In Pijush Kanti Ghosh v. Maya Rani Chatterjee 1971 Acc CJ 267 : (AIR 1971 Cal 229) it is held that the Claims Tribunal constituted under the Motor Vehicles Act has all the trappings of a Court but at the same time the learned Judges of the Calcutta High Court did not think it necessary to decide the point finally.

8. In Delhi Bhiwani Transport Co. Pvt Ltd v. Tram Niwas Surekha, 1980 Acc CJ 207 (Punj & Har), it is held that the Claims Tribunal is a civil Court for purposes of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure and was amenable to the revisional Jurisdiction of the High Court

9. In Ukadbhai Vallabhai Halpati v. Narang Transport, 1978 Acc CJ 89 (Guj) this point was not directly involved and it is an authority for the proposition that rules of procedure are hand-maid of justice and are subservient to the cause of justice.

10. The direct authority on the point is Krishan Gopal Prasad v. Dattatraya Modho Lad, AIR 1972 Madh Pra 125 and it has been held that the Claims Tribunal is a civil Court subordinate to the High Court and orders passed by it in course of proceedings are revisable Under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. For purposes of exercising revisional powers by the High Court, two conditions are laid in the authority: in the first place the order sought to be revised must be that of a civil Court and secondly the Court must be subordinate to the High Court. After consideration of the case law, the learned Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court (on difference of opinion between the two Judges of the Court) held that a mere fact that a tribunal has no general jurisdiction to try a 'suit' does not necessarily mean that it is not a 'Court' for purposes of Section 115 Civil Procedure Code. Trappings of a civil Court have been held to be present in a Claims Tribunal

11. 1979 Acc CJ 442 : (AIR 1978 Punj & Har 265) is also an authority supporting the contention of the petitioner. 1983 A. C. J. (Supreme Court) (Karnataka?) 128 is on a different point which is not involved in this case.

12. On the other hand Mr. Harbans Singh appearing for the respondents has submitted that a Claims Tribunal is an authority and is not a civil Court subordinate to the High Court or amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court. He contended that it may have power to decide matters of a civil nature, but that does not per se, make it a civil Court. He has referred to the provisions whereunder a Claims Tribunal is constituted and submitted that by its very constitution it cannot be termed as a civil Court for purposes of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure and as such the revision is not maintainable. He has also submitted that the Code of Civil Procedure, to a limited extent has been made applicable to the proceedings before the Claims Tribunal and application of Code of Civil Procedure has been excluded in the proceedings before it which would indicate that it has no attributes of a civil Court. Application of Code of Civil Procedure for a limited purpose would only empower the Claims Tribunal to discharge its functions conveniently otherwise the Tribunal has to evolve its own procedure. It is further contended that an award passed by the Claims Tribunal is not executable by it and its execution is dependant on some other provisions of the law, and it has to depend on some other authority for execution of its orders which is indicative of the fact that it is not a civil Court which has power to execute its own orders and decrees.

13. Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act empowers the State Governmentto constitute one or more Claims Tribunals for such areas which may be specified in the Notification for the purpose of adjudicating upon the claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving the death of, 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. Section 110-A lays down the procedure for making application before the Tribunal for compensation Section 110-C of the Motor Vehicles Act prescribes the procedure to be followed by the Claims Tribunal in respect of enquiries Under Section 110-B of the Act Sub-section (2) of this section lays down that it shall have all the powers of a civil Court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath and for enforcing the attendance of witnesses and of compelling the discovery and production of documents and material objects and for such other purposes as may be prescribed and it is to be deemed to be a civil Court for purposes of Section 195 and Chapter XXXV of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It is contended that from the reading of this section it will be seen that it is not a civil Court for limited purpose even and has to exercise powers by adopting summary procedure as it thinks fit and its procedure is regulated in specified matters by Code of Civil Procedure in respect of conduct of enquiries. Reliance is placed on a number of authorities which are also required to be mentioned

14. 'In Satish Chandra v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 1971 Acc CJ 180 (All), it is held that the order passed by the Claims Tribunal was not revisable because Claims Tribunal was not a civil Court and not subject to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court

15. In Khairunrissa A. K. Saddiki v. Municipal Corporation of Bombay 1966 Acc CJ37(Bom) it is held that a Claims Tribunal is not a Court and the proceedings before it are not in the nature of a suit

16. 'In Harbans Singh v. Atma Singh 1966 Acc CJ 172 (Punj), lays down that a Claims Tribunal is not a Court nor is an application for compensation a suit Claims Tribunal is held to be a persona designate Orissa Cooperative Insurance Co. v. Subashini Pradhan 1977 Acc CJ 283 (Orissa) lays down that Claims Tribunal is a persona designate and is not a Court as such revision Under Section 115 Civil Procedure Code is not maintainable against its order.

17. Maharaja Dharmendra Prasad Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1969 All 484 (FB) is an authority on a different point which is not relevant in this controversy.

18. From the reading of these aforesaid authorities. It will be seen that some authorities held that the Claims Tribunal is a civil Court and amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court and some authorities have taken a contrary view. The Court is not defined in the Motor Vehicles Act Definition of word court is given in the Evidence Act and Court includes all Judges and Magistrates or persons except arbitrators legally authorised to take evidence. This definition obviously is only for the purposes of the Evidence Act and cannot be stretched beyond its scope. There are tribunals which have power to decide disputes affecting the civil rights of the parties and they cannot be necessarily deemed to be civil Courts. In Halsbury' s Laws of England at page 526 it is observed as under :

'There are Tribunals with many of the trappings of the Court which nevertheless are not Courts in the sense of exercising judicial power. A Tribunal is not necessarily a Court in the sense of exercising judicial power because it gives a final decision, hears witnesses on oath, two or more parties appear before it ..... it gives decisions which affect the rights of the subjects there is an appeal to a Court.'

19. In respect of an authority under Payment of Wages Act, a similar question arose and the matter came to be decided by the Full Bench of this Court in Gh. Rasool v. Gh. Mohd. Wani reported in 1980 Lab IC 835 : (AIR 1980 NOC 166) (J & K) (FB). The Full Bench answered the question in negative and said that the authority under the Payment of Wages Act was not a Court and not amenable to a revisional jurisdiction of the High Court. We are inclined to hold that Claims Tribunal is not a civil Court and is not amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court on the parity of reasoning given by the Full Bench of this Court in the aforesaid authority. It is further required to be held that if the Claims Tribunal were a civil Court or intended to be a civil Court so many fictions were not needed to be created, for instance there was no requirement to apply Civil Procedure Code in only specified matters for taking evidence and enforcing the attendance of the witnesses and compelling the production of documents. In doing so application of Code of Civil Procedure in other matters is excluded It is also prescribed that the Tribunal would evolve its own procedure for holding the proceedings and in the Rules framed under the Act application before the Tribunal is to be treated a suit That per se, will not make it a civil Court subordinate to the High Court. If that were so the Act itself would have made a provision for treating Claims Tribunal a civil Court and would have made Civil Procedure Code applicable to the Claims Tribunal in its entirety. No procedure is to be prescribed by the Government for civil Courts because the civil Court, as and when, comes into existence is automatically governed by the procedure enacted by the Legislature. That is not a case with a Claims Tribunal There are, as already noted, Administrative Tribunals which may have power to decide civil rights, nevertheless they cannot be termed as civil Courts. Even Administrative Tribunals have power to take evidence and decide matters affecting the civil rights after recording evidence. Such Tribunals cannot be termed as Civil Courts because the procedure applicable to civil Courts is not made applicable to such Tribunals while adjudicating upon the civil rights of the parties before it. In the Full Bench decision of this Court (Gh. Rasool v. Gh. Mohd) referred to above, it was noted that even by necessary implication Section 115 Civil Procedure Code would not be invoked against a Tribunal which in that case was an Authority under the Payment of Wages Act Under the Payment of Wages Act it is required that a petition is filed before the Authority and the Authority has to hold an enquiry and arrive at a conclusion on the basis of evidence produced by the parties before it. For a limited purpose Code of Civil Procedure was made applicable to the enquiries under the said Act and the Full Bench came to the conclusion that limited application of the Code of Civil Procedure was indicative of the fact that the Authority under that Act was not clothed with the powers of a civil Court and was not a civil Court amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court. Similar provisions appear in the Motor Vehicles Act in respect of determination of claims brought before it. Therefore the reasoning given in the Full Bench case (Gh. Rasool v. Gh. Mohd) should squarely apply to the facts of the present case though the Full Bench was considering this question under a different statute but the conclusions laid down by the Full Bench can be applied to the present case also because it is analogous with the facts of that case though it may not be similar.

20. Another difficulty, that the petitioner has not visualised, in this case is dependability of the Claims Tribunal on some other authority for execution of its orders. The award which is passed by the Claims Tribunal is not in the nature of a decree of a civil Court. Therefore, it is not made executable under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act like a decree of a civil Court nor is the chapter concerning the executions appearing in the Code of Civil Procedure applicable to the execution of the awards passed by the Claims Tribunal. Claims Tribunal has to forward the award to some other agency for execution under a different statute. Had it been a civil Court, it could have been clothed with the power to execute its own awards and enforce its own orders that may be passed by it. No such power is given to it therefore this fact will go a long way to indicate that the Claims Tribunal is not a civil Court. No doubt it adjudicates upon the civil rights of the parties, it has power to take evidence and summon the witnesses by resorting to procedure prescribed in the Code of Civil Procedure, but it continues to be a Administrative Tribunal and has no trappings of a civil Court, if that were so the fiction created in the Statute itself would not have been created by the legislature. Then power to summon witnesses etc. is not peculiar to the Claims Tribunal only, such power is given to various Authorities also such as Authority under the Payment of Wages Act, Workmen's Compensation Act, and quasi-Judicial Tribunals who are purely dealing with the administrative matters.

21. Classes of Courts created under civil Courts Act are bound by the procedure given in the Code of Civil Procedure. No separate provision is required to be provided for regulating the procedure to be followed by these Courts. Proceedings before a civil Court are, therefore, to be regulated by the Code of Civil Procedure and its application to civil Courts cannot be restricted or limited by making only specified provisions applicable in exercise of their jurisdiction and by excluding application of other provisions of the Code to it. Its limited application to the Claims Tribunal will make it clear that it was not meant to be a civil Court nor was it constituted or intended to be constituted as a civil Court. It is not a Court created by the civil Courts Act. Consequently provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure will not apply to it save as those which have been made applicable to it by the Motor Vehicles Act itselt

22. The proposition that Claims Tribunal is a persona designate also does not appear to be correct. It is an Administrative Tribunal empowered to decide questions relating to compensation in the manner provided under the Motor Vehicles Act. The authority reported in AIR 1972 Madh Pra 125 (supra), though supports the proposition canvassed by the petitioner, does not seem to have laid down a correct law and with respect we disagree with the said authority. On difference of opinion between Sen and Raina JJ. of Madhya Pradesh High Court. Bhave J. of the said High Court has held that a Claims Tribunal is a civil Court amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court. He has at the same time made application of Section 110 of the Code of Civil Procedure dependant on two considerations first that the order to be revised must be of a civil Court and second, it must be subordinate to the High Court. So far as these observations are concerned, this is what we have held in this judgment. Proceeding on this proposition, the reasoning adopted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court does not appear to be correct. It is held in this authority that a sovereign State is liable to discharge three functions, Legislative, Executive and Judicial. As regards judicial functions it is stated that sovereign State may set up courts of general jurisdiction or limited jurisdiction. These courts may be designated as Tribunals and for its executive function it may appoint Tribunals who may be required to act quasi-judicially. The learned Judge has proceeded further to say that the Tribunals constituted under any statute by whatever name it is described would be treated as a Court of Judicature if it is called upon to discharge judicial functions of sovereign State untrammelled by executive considerations and in reaching its conclusions it is required to follow the well recognised judicial principles. This proposition is too wide to be accepted

23. Tribunals constituted under various Acts by the sovereign State cannot necessarily become civil Courts because they are given powers to decide civil rights of parties appearing before them. This is a proposition which has far reaching consequences. On the basis of this proposition it becomes unnecessary for 'us to follow the Full Bench authority of this Court (AIR 1980 NOC 166) (Gh. Rasool v. Gh. Mohd Wani) which was dealing with the question of a Tribunal constituted under the payment of Wages Act But since we have followed the Full Bench authority of our Court, therefore, we say that all Tribunals set up by the sovereign State do not become civil Courts merely because they are to adjudicate upon the civil rights of the parties. In recent past authorities were created under the Agrarian Reforms Act to adjudicate upon the civil rights of the parties but these authorities do not become civil courts for the purposes of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Where a civil right is litigated it involves recording of evidence and coming to a conclusion on appreciation of evidence. Per se these considerations would not make the Tribunal a civil Court subordinate to the High Court and amenable to its reviskmal jurisdiction. Before the Motor Vehicles Act came into force, matters relating to compensation were tried by civil courts and from the inception of Motor Vehicles Act civil Courts' jurisdiction is barred This bar is contained in the Motor Vehicles Act itself. That also would show that matters relating to compensation in a summary manner and for limited purpose Code of Civil Procedure as made applicable to it. It therefore, follows that the Claims Tribunal is neither treated as a civil Court by the Act which created it nor is it a civil Court for purposes of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

24. The other authorities relied upon by the learned counsel for the petitioner are not directly on the point, for instance the Letters Patent Appeal is held to be maintainable against the judgment of a single Judge of the High Court arising out of compensation case under the Motor Vehicles Act The said appeal, before a Division Bench of a High Court is not to be filed in terms of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act but under the Letters Patent Rules framed by different High Courts. Calcutta High Court has also left the question open because the Court was dealing with a different point The observations made in Biswas's Law Dictionary and in Law Lexicon by Venkataramaiya also do not help the petitioner because these observations are made in a different context In Yeshwant Rao v. Sampat, AIR 1979 Madh Pra 21 (FB) has held that Tribunal constituted under the Workmen's Compensation Act is not a Court and is not amenable to revisional jurisdiction of the High Court. If observations made by the same High Court in AIR 1972 Madh Pra 125 (supra) were correct, then the Full Bench of the same Court should have declared the Tribunal under the Workmen's Compensation Act as a Civil Court. The Supreme Court in Associated Cement Companies Ltd v. P, N. Sharma, AIR 1965 SC 1595 has drawn a distinction between a Tribunal and a Court. The learned Judges constituting the Division Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court have not taken into consideration that distinction nor has the said authority been followed by the Full Bench of the same High Court in respect of the Tribunals constituted under the Workmen's Compensation Act We are also supported in our conclusion by the observations of a Division Bench of the Nagpur High Court. In Sawatram Ramprasad Mills Co. Ltd v. Vishnu Pandurang Hingnekar, AIR 1950 Nag 14 and Justice Hidayatullah( as his Lordship then was) observed as under : --

'The power in England is based upon the prerogative writs which in India are not available to some of the High Courts. The power also exists in India in an attenuated form in Section 115 C.P.C. and is exercisable only in respect of Subordinate Courts of civil judicature. This limited power cannot be extended and can only be exercised if it is clear that the action is required to be taken in respect of a decision of an inferior Court of civil judicature. It cannot be maintained that (barring the issue of a prerogative writ where that power exists) a general subordination of all Tribunals of whatever kind is, in the nature of things, an incident of the High Courts' powers in India and no exclusive jurisdiction can ever be created The rule undoubtedly is that the ouster of the powers of the High Courts is not to be readily inferred. But where the legislature by clear words creates a new Tribnal, self-contained and exclusive, then the matter which needs to be considered is not whether the jurisdiction of the High Court is taken away but whether it was at all there.'

Speaking about Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure and its application, it was observed in the same judgment as under : --

'This section (Section 115 C.P.C) can have application in respect of the Courts mentioned in Section 3 but not in respect of those Courts which have been given exclusive jurisdiction by express provision of law or by necessary implication.'

25. Therefore, we have no doubt in our mind that neither the language of the relevant provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act nor the Rules framed thereunder suggest that the Claims Tribunal was constituted as a civil court. In fact it is constituted as an Administrative Authority and has no trappings or attributes of a civil court. It therefore, follows that the Claims Tribunal is not a civil court subordinate to the High Court or subject to its revisional jurisdiction.

26. We, therefore answer the qeustions framed by the learned single Judge in negative and hold that the Claims Tribunal is not a civil court and it is not amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of this court.

27. As a result of our discussion above, this revision petition fails and is dismissed accordingly. In view of the peculiar features of the case, we leave the parties to bear their own costs.

Rizvi, J.

I agree.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //