The Bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur has observed that a person possessing a light motor vehicle license would also be authorized to ply a transport vehicle without any separate endorsement provided the gross vehicle weight of the said transport vehicle does not exceed 7500/- kgms.
The Court was hearing a appeal filed by the appellant – insurance company in terms of Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act against the judgment and award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Srinagar whereby the Tribunal had allowed the claim petition and granted compensation in favour of the petitioners and against the insurance company. Being aggrieved, the appellant-insurance company had filed the present appeal.
Respondents no. 2 and 3 had filled a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT), Srinagar claiming compensation on account of death of their son who had died due to vehicular accident and incidentally the driver of the offending vehicle (Tipper) was also the owner of the offending vehicle.
The Tribunal after considering the evidence as led by the parties finally allowed the claim petition and granted compensation to the tune of Rs. 6,61,700/- along with simple interest @ 6.5% per annum from the date of the claim petition till realization in favour of the petitioners and against the insurance company. Being aggrieved, the appellant-insurance company had filed the present appeal.
Observations of the Court:
Person possessing a light motor vehicle licence would also be authorized to ply a transport vehicle.
At the outset, the Hon’ble Court considered the first issue that whether a person holding a light motor vehicle licence is authorized to drive a heavy goods vehicle.
The Court placed reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in Mukund Dewangan vs. Oriental Insurance Company Limited, (2017) 14 SCC 663 and observed thus:
“14. On a reading of the aforementioned judgment, it thus becomes clear that a person possessing a light motor vehicle licence would also be authorized to ply a transport vehicle without any separate endorsement provided the gross vehicle weight of the said transport vehicle does not exceed 7500/- kgms. In the present case, from the documents on record, it appears that the gross vehicle weight of the Tipper (offending vehicle) was 16,200/- kgms and therefore, a light motor vehicle licence would not authorize the driver to ply the vehicle in question without a specific endorsement from the licensing authority to ply the vehicle in question in that regard.”
“15. While the verification report does suggest that the licence did authorize the driver to ply a heavy goods vehicle, yet admittedly the endorsement by the licensing authority came much after the date of the accident. It, thus, becomes clear that on the date when the accident took place, the driver of the vehicle was only authorized to ply a light motor vehicle and not a transport vehicle like a Tipper, which is an offending vehicle in the present case whose gross laden weight exceeded 7500 kgms
Driving a Vehicle without Route Permit:
With regard to the question that is whether the insurance company is not liable in view of the fact the vehicle in question was being driven without any route permit on the date of the accident.
The Court referred to Section 66 of the Motor Vehicles Act which specifically prohibits an owner of the motor vehicle to use or permit the use of the vehicle as a transport vehicle in any public place except in accordance with the conditions of a permit granted or counter signed by Regional or a State Transport Authority, authorizing the use of such a vehicle.
“Section 81 of the Act specifically provides that a permit other than a temporary permit issued under Section 87 or a special permit issued under sub section 8 of Section 88 shall be effective from the date of issuance or renewal thereof.”
The Court noted that, in the present case, there was no route permit issued by the registering authority on the date of the accident and in terms of Section 81, the route permit could have been granted only from the date of its issuance and could not have been granted retrospectively as it would fly in the face of Section 81, therefore, the finding recorded by the Tribunal on this aspect is untenable in law.
The Court ultimately held that the Insurance Company cannot be held liable for payment in terms of the Award in favour of the claimants. However, applying the principle of “pay and recover” the insurance company is directed to pay the awarded amount to the claimants with liberty to recover the same from the owner/driver, the Court held.
Bajaj Allianz Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs Mohammad Yousuf Wani and others
CM No. 317/2019 c/w CM No. 318/2019
Coram: Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur
N. A. Dendru, Advocate, appeared for the appellant.
Mr. Mohammad Altaf Khan, Advocate Mr. Bilal Ahmed Malla, Advocate, appeared for the respondents
Date of Judgment: 21.02.2022