High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Bhajan Singh. v. Sarla Devi & Ors. - FAO-5552-2005  RD-P&H 5996 (28 August 2006)
FAO No. 5552 of 2005 (O&M)
Date of Decision : 27.7.2006
Bhajan Singh. ..Appellant
Sarla Devi and others. .. Respondents
CORAM : HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE UMA NATH SINGH
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE S.D. ANAND
Present : Mr. Sant Pal Singh Sidhu, Advocate, for the appellant.
None for the respondent.
1. Respondent Nos. 1 to 4 are legal representatives of deceased Sham Lal, who died in the impugned motor vehicular accident on 9.9.2003.
The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Barnala (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal) allowed the petition (in favour of Sarla Devi, Vanita Ran and Arun Deep, respondents) vide the impugned award dated 19.4.2005. The compensation awarded was Rs. 4,34,000, with interest at the rate of 7% w.e.f. the date of filing of the petition till realization thereof. The petition was dismissed qua respondent Amandeep. The award amount, which was ordered to be equally apportioned, was ordered to be payable by the registered owner / appellant and also respondent Nos. 5 and 6, who are the driver and insurer respectively of the offending vehicle. It was ordered that as the driving licence in favour of respondent No.5 (driver) was found to be fake, the insurer would be entitled to indemnification (to the extent of the amount paid by it) by the appellant registered owner of the offending F.A.O. No.5552 of 2005 (O&M) 2
2. We have heard Mr. Sant Pal Singh Sidhu, learned counsel for the appellant. None appeared on behalf of the respondents despite service.
3. The only grievance presented before us is with regard to the right of indemnification afforded vide the impugned award to the insurer. In order to obtain invalidation of that finding, learned counsel for the appellant argued that the appellant cannot be said to have committed any breach of the terms and conditions governing the impugned insurance policy in view of the fact that the appellant employer had had a glance at the driving licence produced by respondent no.5 at the time of employment and, in the absence of any indication to the contrary, he opted to infer in favour of the genuineness of that document.
4. The plea does not merit acceptance. In the present case, it is evident that the office of District Transport Officer, Moga had made a report (Ex.R1) to the effect that the driving licence in favour of Gurjant Singh (Driver) was fake. As recorded in the impugned award, that report had been sought by the Tribunal itself. That licence is averred to have been issued by the office of District Transport Officer, Moga. The appellant registered owner of the offending vehicle is himself a resident of that very District. The least he could have done in the context was to undertake an exercise for ascertainment of the genuineness of the driving licence aforesaid. If he had done even a bit of exercise in that behalf, the onus would have been heavier upon the Insurance Company to prove the contrary. In the present case, as already indicated, the licence purporting to have been issued by the office of District Transport Officer, Moga, was reported by that office itself to be fake and that report was made by the District Transport Officer in response to a F.A.O. No.5552 of 2005 (O&M) 3
communication from the Court. In that view of things, the registered owner/appellant cannot pray for the invalidation of the finding granting the insurer the liberty on point of indemnification.
5. Apart therefrom, the filing of the appeal is barred by limitation. There is delay of 133 days in filing the appeal. The only averment, though affidavit-supported, in the application is that the appeal could not be filed in time as the poor claimant had to arrange funds for the purpose. The plea merits negation for want of any legal justification. The application for condonation of delay does not deserves acceptance. It shall stand declined accordingly.
6. As no other part of the award was under challenge at the time of arguments before us and the only grievance put forth on behalf of the appellant has been found to be without merit and also because the appeal is palpably time barred, it is ordered that the F.A.O. No. 5552 of 2005 filed by the registered owner appellant shall stand dismissed in limine.
( S.D. ANAND )
July 27, 2006 ( UMA NATH SINGH )
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