CHENNAI : In a significant judgment having far reaching consequences, a division bench of the Madras High Court has held that insurance companies cannot be made liable to pay compensation to those who travel in goods carriers, in the event of an accident. In the light of the categorical pronouncements of a larger bench of the Supreme Court in various accident death cases, a bench said the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals are not right in directing the insurance companies concerned to pay compensation and recover the same from the owner of the vehicle involved.
The bench gave the ruling while passing orders on a batch of appeals from Bharati AXA General Insurance Company Limited in Bengaluru, challenging a common order dated September 23, 2014 of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal at Dharmapuri. Aandi and 15 others of Kotapatty had engaged a goods carrier to attend a wedding at Soolakurichi on September 1, 2011.
While returning after marriage, the van toppled and some died on the spot. Others sustained injuries.
They moved the tribunal which in September 2014 awarded various amounts according to the injuries/deaths. The tribunal directed the insurance firm to pay the sum and recover the same from the owner of the vehicle later.
Aggrieved, the insurance company preferred the present appeals, which were allowed now.
“No doubt true that in many cases the claimants may not be able to realise the award amount from the owners of the vehicles involved in the accident. But, the said factual situation alone cannot impel us to do something against the provisions of the statute and the decisions of the larger benches of the Supreme Court,” the bench said.