Supreme Court: Third Party Insurance Necessary for Cars and Bikes from 1st Sept

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Supreme Court of India did its part to promote road safety awareness campaign when it ruled that third-party insurance of 3 years for cars and 5 years for two-wheelers is mandatory from 1st September.

Case Name: S. Rajaseekaran v. Union Of India

Bench: Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Deepak Gupta

Facts Of The Case

Division Bench of Supreme Court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Mr. S Rajaseekaran Chairman and Head of Orthopedic Department, Ganga Hospital, Coimbatore. Public interest litigation filed was seeking guidelines for improving road safety.  The Supreme Court relied on the decision of Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan. According to a meeting of Committee on 26th March 2018, after analysing the numbers and statistics it was discovered that out of 18 crore vehicles moving on the road only 6 crore vehicle were covered by mandatory third party insurance, so this meant that 66% of vehicles operating on the roads of India were without third party insurance. There are numerous cases where legal representatives of victims of deadly road accidents had to run from pillar to post to get some relief from the owner of the offending vehicle due to lack of third party insurance. To solve this problem, Committee had lengthy discussions with various insurance regulatory bodies and department of transport and highways and the Ministry of Finance. It was decided that all the cars and bikes on Indian roads should have 3-year and 5-year third party insurance respectively. Furthermore, it was also decided that insurance data should be shared and integrated with transport ministry data and third-party vehicular insurance should be made available easily on online channels.

The Decision of the Case

The bench observed that decision of the committee were “eminently reasonable” and should be implemented. Court directed that

“We make it clear that the third party insurance cover for new cars should mandatorily be for a period of three years and for two-wheelers, it should mandatorily be for a period of five years. This may be taken and treated as a separate product. We leave it to the insurance companies to deal with comprehensive insurance policies on a separate footing and it would be at the option of the owner of the vehicle to decide which policy should be taken except that the third party insurance is mandatory. The decision should be implemented from 1st September 2018 on the policies sold”. The court also took up the issue of potholes on roads. It was found that potholes were responsible for causing a large number of accidents in cities. It was uncovered that the number of deaths due to potholes were far more than deaths due to terrorist attacks. The court on the issue of potholes said that

“There is little doubt that those who are obliged to maintain the roads under the municipal laws are not doing their job as effectively as they should. It is as a result of this that fatal accidents are taking place and the families are facing distress.”

Supreme Court Committee ordered to look into the matter as soon as possible and submit a report regarding the same.

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