CHENNAI: The Madras High Court set aside the awards passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (Court of Small Causes) in Chennai to the family members of two accident victims and imposed a fine of `10,000 each on them for filing bogus claims.
“On evaluation of the pleadings and evidence, the court is of the view that bogus claims have been made by the claimants and the same ought to have been rejected by the tribunal,” Justice S Manikumar said on June 17 last.
The judge further added, going through the entire records and the report of C Vijayakumar, superintendent of police, Kancheepuram District, this Court is of the view that the claimants, who played a fraud on the court, are not entitled to any equitable relief. The tribunal has committed an error in fastening the liability on United India Insurance Company, Royapettah branch, by not appreciating the evidence in proper perspective, the judge added.
In the result, the judgment and decrees made by the tribunal on August 30, 2011 are set aside, the judge said and allowed the appeal from the insurance company and dismissed the appeals from the victims’ family to enhance the award amounts.
The judge also permitted the insurance company to withdraw the award money deposited in favour of the claimants by making necessary applications before the claims tribunal.
It was alleged that there was a collision between a motorbike and an autorikshaw, resulting in the death of the bike rider Stephen Chelladurai and pillion rider Ilangovan at Maraimalai Nagar, on July 9, 2005. The family members of the victims filed separate claims before the tribunal, which despite objection and allegation that the claims were bogus, awarded `7.28 lakh and `7.32 lakh to the claimants.
Contending that the award money was too low, the claimants filed appeals. The insurance company also filed an appeal challenging the award. It contended that it was a hit-and-run case and the autorikshaw in question was not involved in the accident. Relying on the medical report, it argued that the tyre of the autorickshaw could not have caused the death of Stephen Chelladurai, the bike rider. Maraimalai Nagar police inspector Krishnan, who investigated the case, colluded with the claimants and implicated the auto and fabricated evidences, it further contended.
Finding force in the submissions of the insurance company, Justice Manikumar dismissed the appeals from the claimants and allowed the appeals from the insurance company. He also pulled up the tribunal for not listening to the submissions of the insurance company.