National Insurance Co, driver to pay Rs 16 lakh compensation for mishap: Motor Accident Claims Tribunal

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal has awarded a compensation of Rs 16.27 lakhs to the wife and four children of a police head constable, who was killed in a road accident in 2004.

Tribunal’s presiding judge M H More ordered the National Insurance Co Ltd and an autorickshaw owner, Babu Gopal Nichite, to jointly bear the compensation amount, which is to be paid to the claimants from Sahapur town of Thane district.

They were also required to pay an interest at the rate of nine per cent per annum on the amount from the date of claim in 2004 till the realisation of the amount, the tribunal at Kalyan ordered on January 15.

The claimants counsel, Pradeep Tillu, told the tribunal that head constable Shravan Bhalerao (43), working with the Thane police constabulary, was riding the pillion on a scooter on July 19, 2004 when an autorickshaw coming from the opposite side hit it. Bhalerao suffered serious injuries and succumbed on July 29, 2004.

The applicants stated before the tribunal that they were dependents of the deceased and they had incurred expenses of Rs 2 lakh on Bhalerao’s medical treatment.

They stated that the accident occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the autorickshaw driver and the facts and circumstances of the case clearly indicated so.

The applicants told the tribunal that they had been deprived of the source of maintenance, expectations, support, companionship etc, which were provided by the deceased and therefore they claimed a compensation of Rs 15 lakhs.

However, K V Poojari, appearing for the insurance company, contested the claim and said that the accident was the result of contributory negligence of the scooter and the autorickshaw and hence the insurance company was not liable to pay any compensation and the claim was also too high.

The owner of the autorickshaw did not appear and hence the case was decided ex-parte against him.

In his order, the judge refused to accept the submissions by the insurance company and observed that “in his cross examination the advocate of the insurance company was only asking questions whether the witness (Dilip Karia who was driving the scooter) was possessing driving license and gave suggestions that the autorickshaw driver was not in high speed and the witness was deposing false only in order to help his friend.”

The judge also observed that the burden lies on the respondent to examine the autorickshaw driver but as they failed to examine him, adverse inference can be drawn against the respondent.”

“There is no reason to disbelieve his (Karia’s) version in absence of any evidence led by the respondent in rebuttal. So, by accepting the evidence lead by the witness and from the police papers on record, I have no hesitation to hold that the driver of autorickshaw was rash and negligent in absence of any proof on record,” the judge said.

The respondent insurance company failed to prove that it is a case of contributory negligence, the tribunal held.

Calculating the compensation to be given to the family of the police head constable, the tribunal took recourse to the guidelines given in the case of Sarla Verma by the Supreme Court, which said that the compensation should be based on the age, multiplier, and the number of survivors, especially children.

Accordingly, the tribunal arrived at a compensation of Rs 14.49 lakhs and also gave an amount of Rs one lakh towards hospital bill, Rs 60,177 for the medicines, Rs 15,000 towards consortium and Rs 3,000 towards funeral expenses.

Thus, the tribunal ordered a total compensation of Rs 16.27 lakhs along with an interest at the rate of nine per cent per annum, which was the bank rate at the time of the accident in 2004.

The tribunal further directed that upon realisation, an amount of Rs 75,000 each should be kept in FD accounts in the name of all the five claimants.

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