CHENNAI: From August 1, only the government constituted Medical Boards shall issue the ‘Disability Certificates’, required by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals, to decide the quantum of compensation, Madras High Court has ruled.
A division bench of Justices R Sudhakar (since transferred) and S Vaidyanathan gave the ruling while confirming an order dated July 17, 2014 of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal in Tiruppur awarding a compensation of Rs 18.37 lakh to a victim, who sustained serious injuries in a road accident.
The bench noted that the claimants choose a ‘select group of doctors’ with insurance companies and transport corporations complaining that they are ‘stock witnesses’ and challenge their assessments, even if accepted by the Claims Tribunals after discounting the same.
Some decisions have been critical of the mode and manner of assessment of disability by these doctors, who regularly appear before the claims tribunals. It is not a rocket science to identify the personnel who appear in these proceedings as they are found in the list of witnesses before various claims tribunals all over the State, very regularly.
This has been a major grouse or grievance of insurance companies and transport corporations who claim that these medical professionals do not follow proper practices and their assessments are tilted to advance the interest of the claimants, at times, unfairly.
This procedure and practice in assessment of permanent disability by various doctors in various claims tribunal have led to huge pendency of appeals, the bench observed.
It directed that in motor accidents claims, the Tribunals shall issue a letter to the Medical Board in the district, within whose jurisdiction the claim petition was pending and in case there was no such Board in the said district, the Board in the nearest district shall examine the injured claimant/victim and issue the disability certificate within a time frame to be specified by the Tribunal.
The Medical Boards shall assess the permanent disability as per the Disability (Permanent Physical Impairment) Assessment and Certification Guidelines & Gazette Notification issued by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on June,13, 2001 and published by National Institute for the Orthopedically Handicapped.
The Boards shall be at liberty to follow its procedures and practices or conduct tests as they may deem fit, for issuance of the certificates. They shall be at liberty to charge such fee as may be required from the insurance companies or transport corporations or such other contesting parties, as the case may be.
The claims Tribunal shall, upon receipt of the certificate of disability, shall issue a certified copy of the said certificate to the contesting parties, on application.
The Tribunals shall mark the disability certificates without need for any oral evidence or insisting upon the appearance of Medical Board official or personnel or doctor. However, in exceptional cases, this would not preclude the Tribunals to direct the authors of the certificates of disability, to appear before it to answer clarifications, if any.