Punjab and Haryana High Court remands case relating to Motor Vehicles Act to the Tribunal for a fresh decision

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The present case (Bina Garg and Anr. vs. Sushil Kumar and Ors.) is an Appeal filed against a 2008 award of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Chandigarh.

Brief Facts of the Case 

The son of the claimants, Pranav Vishal Garg, had died in an accident which took place on 14.09.2004. On the said date, the deceased and his friend Amrit Thapa were on separate motorcycles. Mr. Garg was ahead of Amrit Thapa, who was on his motorcycle bearing registration No.HR-02A-3775. 

When Pranav Vishal Garg took a turn, the offending vehicle bearing registration No. UP-14D-0475 advanced from the side of Dadri in a rash and negligent manner. It hit his motorcycle from the back, thereby crushing both the rider and his vehicle. Mr. Garg died on the spot. When the matter went to the Tribunal, it dismissed the claimants’ petition on grounds of lack of jurisdiction. 

Contentions of the Parties 

The provision in dispute is Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act. This deals with the application for compensation in case of an accident. The Appellants contend that the Section allows them to file a claim petition at three places. First is where the accident took place. Second is where the claimant resides and carries on business. The third is where the defendant resides. The Respondent argued that the Tribunal lacked territorial jurisdiction to try the petition. The lack in the jurisdiction is because the Claimants did not live in Chandigarh and the accident did not take place there.

Court’s observations

In this case, the Claimants changed their address after the accident took place. The Court relied on the apex court judgement of Mantoo Sarkar vs. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. And Ors. In this case, it was observed that where prejudice is caused to either party by the change in residence, the higher court cannot entertain any claims of jurisdiction. The Tribunal is a Court subordinate to the High Court. Further, the Provisions of the Civil Procedure Code bind the High Court while it exercises an appellate power.

The Court also stated that the Motor Vehicles Act was a benevolent piece of legislation. The above Section was a provision for the wellness of the victims of motor accidents. Therefore a hyper-technical approach is not advised in these matters. Moreover, there is no bar in filing a claim petition where the Claimants live at the time of filing of the petition. 

Court’s decision

The Decision passed by the Tribunal will not sustain and is set aside by the Court. The matter is also remanded to the Tribunal for deciding it afresh. 


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