High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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New India Assurance Co.Ltd. v. Darshan Kaur & Ors - FAO-197-1995  RD-P&H 3087 (12 May 2006)
DATE OF DECISION:8-5-2006
New India Assurance Co.Ltd. APPELLANT
Darshan Kaur and others RESPONDENTS
CORAM: HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE VINOD K.SHARMA
PRESENT:Mr.L.M.Suri, Senior Advocate with Mr. Neeraj Khanna, Advocate, for the appellant.
Mr.Palwinder Singh, Advocate, for respondent Nos.1 to 6.
This appeal has been filed by the Insurance Company 1994.
The facts leading to the filing of the present case are that on 1-3-1992 Surinder Singh deceased while proceeding on his scooter No.PAH-4426 from Sirhind to Patiala met with an accident with truck bearing registration No. PB-10C-9831 driven by Shri Amarjit Singh, respondent No.2. It was the case of the claimants that the said truck was being driven by him rashly and negligently in a zig zag manner and on account of the accident Surinder singh deceased died at the spot. The accident was witnessed by Sarvshri Rajinder Singh and Sucha Singh. However, according to the claimants, driver Amarjit FAO No. 197 of 1995
Singh and owner Jarnail Singh were influential persons and made a false report. It was also the case of the claimants that Surinder Singh deceased was working as Head Constable with the Punjab Police and was aged about 32 years. His salary at the time of the accident was Rs.2650/- per month and accordingly a sum of Rs.5 lacs was claimed as compensation.
The claim petition was contested by respondent No.1 Jarnail Singh, owner of the truck, where he took a plea that no accident had taken place on 1-3-1992. According to him, story of accident was fabricated and concocted one and the claim petition was filed in order to grab money from the respondents.
In the written statement filed by respondent No.3 i.e. New India Assurance Company Ltd., it was stated that the driver did not have a valid driving licence, nor the valid registration certificate and fitness certificate, though it was admitted that the truck was insured. On the pleadings of the parties following issues were framed:-
"(1) Whether Surinder Singh died in a motor vehicle accident caused by rash and
negligent driving of truck No.PB-10C-9831 driven by respondent No.2 Amarjit Singh on 1-3-1992 in the revenue limits of village FAO No. 197 of 1995
Nalleni ? OPA
2. Whether the claimants are entitled to compensation ? If so, to what extent and from whom of the respondents ? OPA
3. Relief." Learned counsel for the appellant has challenged the findings of the learned Motor Accident Claims Tribunal to the effect that the insurance company would not be liable to indemnify the owner. The argument of the learned counsel is that in the present case, the only evidence regarding the validity of the licence of Amarjit Singh was by way of Exhibit R-4 which was the driving licence issued to Amarjit Singh by the Registering Authority. Though the learned counsel argued that the said licence was fake in view of the evidence led by the insurance company, but even if Exhibit R-4 is taken to be a valid licence, still the validity period mentioned therein was from 31-3-1987 to 30-3-1990, whereas accident had occurred on 1-3-1992 and there was no material on record to show that the validity of that licence was extended or Amarjit Singh was granted any new driving licence. Therefore, it has to be taken that Amarjit Singh did not have a valid driving licence on the said date. Though the insurance company would be liable to pay FAO No. 197 of 1995
compensation, but the right to recover the same could not be denied. The judgment of the learned Motor Accident Claims Tribunal shows that the only ground for rejecting this contention of the insurance company was that Amarjit Singh had some driving licence on the date of accident which was duly proved and the same was taken into custody by the Police and, thereafter it was presumed by the Tribunal that no owner of the vehicle would give his truck to any person for driving if he knows that the driver does not have a valid licence. The learned Tribunal, therefore, came to the conclusion that as Amarjit Singh had a driving licence, which was prima facie valid, therefore, the insurance company would be liable to indemnify Jarnail Singh, respondent No. 7 (herein) i.e. Owner of the truck. I do not think that this finding can be sustained. It is true that insurance company has to indemnify the claimants, but its right to recover the same from the owner if the licence is fake, cannot be defeated. Learned counsel for the appellant placed reliance on the following judgments in support of his contention:- (i) National Insurance Co.Ltd.Vs. Swaran Singh & others, (2004) 3 SCC 297
(ii) Suraj Bhan Vs. Anand and others,
(2005-3) PLR 808.
(iii) New India Assurance Co.Ltd. Vs.Manjit Kaur & others, AIR 2004 SC 2864
FAO No. 197 of 1995
In view of what has been stated above, I agree with the contention raised by the counsel for the appellant and dispose of the present appeal with a direction that the insurance company would make the payment to the claimants as assessed by this Court and would be at liberty to recover the same from the owner of the truck.
08-05-2006 ( VINOD K.SHARMA)
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