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Sadiq Ali @ Sadaq Ali And Another v. Smt. Murti Devi And Others - WRIT - C No. 25315 of 2003  RD-AH 1979 (17 August 2005)
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 25315 of 2003
Sadiq Ali alias Sadaq Ali & another Vs. Smt. Murti Devi & others
Hon'ble Vineet Saran, J
One Shyam Singh met with an accident on 31.10.1998 and received serious injuries on account of which he expired on 2.11.1998. The widow, children and other dependants of the deceased Shyam Singh filed a Motor Accident Claim Petition No. 109 of 1999 before the District Judge, Meerut on 10.2.1999. The petitioners who were the owner and driver of the vehicle which caused the accident and who were arrayed as opposite parties, filed their written statement on 11.5.1999 clearly admitting the ownership of the vehicle in question but, however, denied that the said vehicle was involved in the accident in which Shyam Singh is said to have received injuries. Clear admissions to that effect have been made, not only in one paragraph, but in four paragraphs of the written statement, namely, paragraphs 13, 14, 21 and 22. On the basis of the pleadings of the parties, issues had been framed and some witnesses had also been examined. However, on 26.4.2003, after engaging a new counsel, the petitioners filed an application to amend their written statement. By means of this amendment application the petitioners sought to withdraw their admission with regard to the ownership of the vehicle in question which had been earlier made by them in the written statement. The matter was contested by the claimant-respondents. Vide order dated 17.5.2003 the amendment application filed by the petitioners has been rejected. Aggrieved by the said order the petitioners have filed this writ petition.
I have heard Sri Saghir Ahmad, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner as well as Sri Siddharth, learned counsel appearing for all the claimants who have been arrayed as respondents, and have perused the record.
While rejecting the application for amendment filed by the petitioners, the Tribunal has recorded a clear finding of fact that the admission of ownership of the vehicle had been categorically made by the petitioners in their written statement filed on 11.5.1999 and after evidence having been recorded, at the stage of hearing, after four years of having made such admission, the petitioners cannot be permitted to get the written statement amended, withdrawing the categorical admission made by them in the written statement. Reliance on several judgments of the Apex Court as well as this Court has been placed by the Tribunal while passing the said order dated 17.5.2003.
In my view, there cannot be any doubt about the fact that the petitioners, by way of amendment, are wanting to withdraw an admission made by them in the written statement. In paragraph 13 of the written statement the ownership of the vehicle in question has been admitted by the opposite party no. 1 (petitioner no. 1 herein) by clearly stating that he is the registered owner of the said vehicle. Thereafter in paragraph 14 it has been stated that he uses the said tractor in question for agricultural purposes and has not got the same insured. Then again in paragraph 21 it has been reiterated that he is the owner of the said tractor No. HRS 7384 but the same was not involved in any accident on 31.10.1998, due to which injuries were caused to Shyam Singh. In paragraph 22 also it has been stated that his tractor has wrongly been implicated in the accident. As such, it cannot be said that the amendments withdrawing such admission which are now being sought would not prejudice the legal right of the petitioners. The Apex Court in the case of Heera Lal Vs. Kalyan Mal 1998 (1) Allahabad Rent Cases 1 has categorically held that an amendment sought in the written statement wherein certain admissions have been made which would displace or take away any legal right of plaintiff or adversely or prejudicially affect the plaintiff should not be allowed.
In the present case the petitioners are wanting to withdraw their admission which has been made by them in the written statement filed more than four years back and thereafter they are now seeking amendment even after issues have been framed and substantial evidence has already been recorded. It appears to be the ingenuity of the new counsel (who had subsequently been engaged by the petitioners before the Tribunal) to get the case adjourned after the framing of issues and substantial evidence had already been led by parties. In my view, the same cannot be permitted and I also do not find any illegality with the order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal impugned in this writ petition.
In the case of B.K.Narayana Pillai Vs. Parameshwaran Pillai (2000) 1 S.C.C. 712 on which reliance has been placed by the petitioners, while allowing the amendment application, the Supreme Court had observed that "We do not agree with the finding of the High Court that the proposed amendment virtually amounted to withdrawal of any admission made by the appellant and that such withdrawal was likely to cause irretrievable prejudice to the respondent."
Learned counsel for the petitioners has also relied on the decision of the Apex Court rendered in the case of Estralla Rubber Vs. Dass Estate (P) Ltd. (2001) 8 S.C.C. 97. In the said case the Supreme Court was considering a case in which the defendant had not withdrawn any admission made by him but was seeking amendment of his written statement only to elaborate his defence and take additional pleas in support of his case. In such circumstances while allowing the amendment application the Court made following observations:-
"5. We have considered the submissions made on behalf of either side. The High Court set aside the order passed by the learned District Judge stating that the proposed amendment will have the effect of displacing the plaintiff from admission made by the defendant in its petition filed under Sections 17(2) and 17(2-A) of the Act and that such admission could not be permitted to be withdrawn. We have perused the relevant records including the original application and the proposed amendment. We are not able to see any admission made by the defendant as such, which was sought to be withdrawn. . . . . . . It is not shown how the proposed amendment prejudiced the case of the plaintiff. It is also not the case of the plaintiff that any accrued right to it was tried to be taken away by the proposed amendment. The proposed amendment is to elaborate the defence and to take additional plea in support of its case. Assuming that there was some admission indirectly, it is open to the defendant to explain the same. .. . . . . .Merely because there was delay in making the amendment application, when no serious prejudice is shown to have been caused to the plaintiff so as to take away any accrued right, the application could not be rejected. At any rate, it cannot be said that allowing the amendment caused irretrievable prejudice to the plaintiff. . . . . ."
In my view, the ratio of the aforesaid decisions would not help the petitioners. The amendment was allowed in the cases before the Supreme Court as it was unable to see any admission made by the defendant. However, in the present case, a clear admission had been made by the petitioners which is now sought to be withdrawn and if allowed to do so, the same would cause irretrievable prejudice to the claimants.
While examining the scope of power and jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India the Supreme Court in the case of Estralla Rubber (supra) made following observations:-
"6. The scope and ambit of exercise of power and jurisdiction by a High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India is examined and explained in a number of decisions of this Court. The exercise of power under this article involves a duty on the High Court to keep inferior courts and tribunals within the bounds of their authority and to see that they do the duty expected or required of them in a legal manner. The High Court is not vested with any unlimited prerogative to correct all kinds of hardship or wrong decisions made within the limits of the jurisdiction of the subordinate courts or tribunals. Exercise of this power and interfering with the orders of the courts or tribunals is restricted to cases of serious dereliction of duty and flagrant violation of fundamental principles of law or justice, where if the High Court does not interfere, a grave injustice remains uncorrected. It is also well settled that the High Court while acting under this article cannot exercise its power as an appellate court or substitute its own judgment in place of that of the subordinate court to correct an error, which is not apparent on the face of the record."
These observations of the Apex Court also help the respondents (claimants) and not the petitioners. Once it has been found that the order of the Tribunal, in the facts of the case, was fully justified, there is no reason for this Court to interfere.
Thus, it cannot be disputed that the amendment in the written statement can be allowed only to the extent when it further elaborates an admission or stand taken by the defendant but he cannot be permitted to withdraw any admission already made by him which have already given certain rights to the plaintiff.
In the present case, after the categorical admission of the petitioner no. 1 (opposite party before the Tribunal) that he is the owner of the vehicle in question, the issue which remained to be decided was as to whether the said vehicle was involved in the accident or not. By the proposed amendment the petitioners want to dispute the ownership of the vehicle itself which cannot be permitted especially when issues have already been framed and substantial evidence has already been led by the parties. Allowing such an amendment application, as in the present case would adversely and prejudicially affect the rights of the plaintiffs and as such the Tribunal has rightly rejected the same.
Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, this writ petition lacks merit and is dismissed.
Keeping in view the fact that the claim petition had been filed in the year 1999, and after rejection of the amendment application this writ petition was filed in the year 2003, and since then the petitioner has only prayed for adjournments without ever earlier arguing the case on merits, and has thus kept this writ petition pending and consequently, even without there being any stay order passed, the proceedings before the Tribunal could not go on as the petitioners have been seeking regular adjournments before the Tribunal on the ground that the writ petition filed by them is already pending, it would be desirable that the claim petition be decided as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of six months from the date of filing of a certified copy of this order before the Tribunal. It is made clear that the Tribunal shall not grant any unnecessary adjournments to either of the parties.
It is, however, clarified that any observation made hereinabove shall not affect the merit of the case before the Tribunal.
This writ petition stands dismissed. No order as to costs.
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