High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. v. Manjit Kaur & Ors - FAO-1179-1997  RD-P&H 911 (17 February 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.
F.A.O. No. 1179 of 1997
Date of Decision: February 8, 2006
The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd.
Manjit Kaur and others
CORAM: HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE VINEY MITTAL.
Present:- Mr. D.P. Gupta, Advocate
for the appellant
Mr. Kanwaljit Singh, Advocate
for the appellants
VINEY MITTAL, J. (ORAL)
The present appeal has been filed by the Insurance Company challenging its liability to pay the compensation as awarded by the Motor accident Claims Tribunal, Jalandhar vide award dated February 1, 1997.
An accident had occurred on May 17, 1993 when Joga Singh, who was driving a scooter was returning back from his duties to his house. A Truck bearing No. HR-29-C-4437 driven by Rachhpal Singh driver, hit the scooter. As a result thereof Joga Singh died. At the time of his death, Joga Singh was 50 years of age and was working as Forman with Doaba Milk Producer's Cooperative Union, Jalandhar and was getting monthly salary of Rs.4202/-. The deceased left behind his widow Manjit Kaur, his son Gurpreet Singh, three daughters F.A.O. No. 1179 of 1997 
Maninderjit Kaur, Amandeep Kaur and Gurjit Kaur and his aged mother Bishan Kaur. The claimants initiated proceedings for compensation and a claim of Rs.10 lacs was made before the learned Tribunal.
The learned Tribunal on the basis of the evidence available on the record found that the driver of the offending truck, Rachhpal Singh was driving the truck rashly and negligently and had caused the accident on account of the aforesaid fact. Consequently, the claimants were held entitled to compensation.
The plea raised by the Insurance Company that the licence possessed by Rachhpal Singh was not a valid driving licence, was also rejected by the learned Tribunal holding that the owner of the truck did not have any means to verify about the authenticity of the driving licence. It was also noticed that driving licence had been renewed subsequently at the time of employment of the driver by the owner of the truck. Consequently, it was held that Insurance Company was also liable jointly and severally along with the owner and driver of the truck. The compensation was assessed at Rs.3,65,000/- payable to the claimants. Widow of the deceased was held entitled to Rs.1,65,000/- whereas Rs.40,000/- each were assessed as payable to the remaining claimants along with interest at the rate of 12% per annum.
As noticed above, the Insurance company has challenged the award with regard to the liability fastened upon it.
I have heard the learned counsel for the parties and have also gone through the record of the case.
The plea raised by the Insurance Company that the licence of Rachhpal Singh driver was fake and the mere renewal would not convert the same into a valid driving licence cannot be accepted since the controversy in question stands concluded by the law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in F.A.O. No. 1179 of 1997 
the case of National Insurance Company Limited Vs. Swaran Singh and others, 2004 (3) SCC 297. In the aforesaid judgment, it has been laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court that mere absence, fake or invalid driving licence or disqualification of the driver for driving at the relevant time, are not in themselves defences available to the insurer against either the insured or the third parties. In view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in Swaran Singh's case (supra), there is no merit in the appeal filed by the Insurance Company. The insurance company has not led any evidence to show that the employer of the driver was negligent in any manner in employing the driver Rachhpal Singh. Consequently, the Insurance Company is held liable jointly and severally along with driver and owner of the offending truck.
As a result of the aforesaid discussion, the present appeal is devoid of any merit and the same is accordingly dismissed.
February 8, 2006 ` (VINEY MITTAL)
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