-report by Ojas Bhatnagar
The Supreme Court in the case of Janabai vs M/S I.C.I.C.I. Lambord Insurance made it clear that when seeking compensation in vehicle accidents, the evidence to prove it must be decided on basis of evidence led before it and not on evidence that should have been or could have been held in a criminal trial.
On June 1st, 2007, Dinkar Shankarrao Ghorpade was riding a motorcycle when suddenly a Maruti 800 car came dashing towards him and hit him. The car was coming from the opposite direction. Mr. Ghorpade received serious injuries and was admitted to a Government Hospital (Ghati Hospital). On 2nd June he was shifted to Kamal Nayan Bajaj Hospital but he succumbed to his injuries on 25th June 2007. An FIR was lodged on 2nd July 2007.
The heirs of Dinkar Shankarrao Ghorpade were not provided compensation by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal for a sum of Rs.8,90,000 with an interest of @7% p.a on the orders of The High Court of Bombay. Hence the need for appeal is there at the Supreme Court. The deceased got hit by a Maruti 800 car while he was riding a bike, he was seriously injured and died in the hospital due to a head injury. In an appeal filed by the insurance company, the High Court did not accept the findings that the accident happened due to negligence occurred by the driver. The high court could not establish a link between the accident and the car that had crashed. The petitioner argued that getting help for the heavily injured husband was the first priority and filing an FIR could have been done later. The petitioner claimed compensation on the account of love and affection and compensation on account of the spousal consortium for the wife and for the parental consortium for children.
The respondent which is an insurance company did not accept the findings that the accident happened due to the car owned by the owner and negligence caused by the driver. The appellant falsely filed an FIR that had no mention of her
husband being taken to the hospital in a Maruti 800 car, the vehicle that caused the accident was also not disclosed. Another important fact to be noted is that claimant Janabai in her evidence never revealed her source of information as to how on 20th August 2007 she got knowledge about the registration number of the offending car which was disclosed to police. The investigating officer is not examined by the claimant to prove his source of information regarding the offending car. The bona fide was also doubtful. Taking all these factors the high court rightfully dismissed the petition filed by the appellant. Hence the petitioner is not entitled to get any sort of compensation.
The SC found the order of the high court unsustainable. The primary concern of the appellant was to take care of Mr. Ghorpade. The well-being of the appellant mattered the most at that time. The HC has wrongfully proceeded only on the basis of evidence given to the police which does not even mention the name of the driver in the FIR. The wife was in a mentally unstable state as she was brought to the hospital after the crash and did not file an FIR at that time. The owner of the vehicle had taken it on superdari and he had not filed an FIR against his driver Sanjay. According to him, there is no false implication. In its own words the Supreme Court said:
“We find that the rule of evidence to prove charges in a criminal trial 5 cannot be used while deciding an application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 which is summary in nature. There is no reason to doubt the veracity
of the statement of appellant No. 1 who suffered injuries in the accident. The application under the Act has to be decided on the basis of evidence led before it and not on the basis of evidence that should have been or could have been led in a criminal trial. We find that the entire approach of the High Court is clearly not sustainable.”
The appellants are entitled to enhanced compensation. The appellant wanted compensation on basis of love and affection but as decided in the case of United India Assurance Company Limited vs Satinder Kaur and Ors. compensation under love and affection cannot be granted, however, compensation on other grounds can be granted. The tribunal assessed the deceased monthly salary as Rs 10000 and keeping in view the age and other factors the total compensation turns out to be Rs. 11,63,000 with an interest of 7% p.a. from the date of claim. The appeal was hence allowed.