17 June 2024


Supreme Court

The Oriental Insurance Company Limited Vs. Kahlon (Deceased) through his Legal Representative Narinder Kahlon Gosakan and Ors.



Motor Vehicles

A motor accident claim petition does not abate even after the death of the injured claimant

The original claimant was severely injured in a motor accident on 2nd May, 1999. He filed a claim for compensation under Section 166(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal awarded him a sum of Rs. 1,00,000 only with 9% interest. Dissatisfied, the original claimant preferred an appeal before the High Court. Unfortunately, he was deceased on 6th November, 2015 during the pendency of the appeal, not attributed to the injuries suffered in the accident. The daughter of the claimant, who was an unmarried girl aged 21 years at the time of the accident, was substituted in the appeal. The High Court substantially enhanced the compensation.

The Act is beneficial and welfare legislation. Section 166(1) (a) of the Act provides for a statutory claim for compensation arising out of an accident by the person who has sustained the injury. Under Clause (b), compensation is payable to the owner of the property. In case of death, the legal representatives of the deceased can pursue the claim.

Property, under the Act, will have a much wider connotation than the conventional definition. If the legal heirs can pursue claims in case of death, there is no reason why the legal representatives cannot pursue claims for loss of property akin to estate of the injured, if he is deceased subsequently for reasons other than attributable to the accident or injuries under Clause 1(c) of Section 166 of Act. Such a claim would be completely distinct from personal injuries to the claimant and which may not be the cause of death. Such claims of personal injuries would undoubtedly abate with the death of the injured.

The Appellant has a statutory obligation to pay compensation in motor accident claim cases. This obligation cannot be evaded behind the defence that it was available only for personal injuries and abates on his death irrespective of the loss caused to the estate of the deceased because of the injuries.

The Appellant is therefore directed to pay to Respondent No. 1 within a period of four weeks Rs. 28,42,175 along with interest @ 9% p.a. from the date of filing of the claim petition, till its realisation. Appeal partly allowed.

Tags : Enhancement Compensation Legality

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