Ankit
Right to claim compensation before MACT by non-dependent LR’s of deceased.
Ankit Kumar 1 Jan 2022

Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 nowhere define the term “Legal Representative”, however an application for compensation under section 166 of the MV act, 1988 may be made by the Legal Representative of the deceased. MV act includes provision for who all can apply for compensation in the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal in case they get involve in a road accident. As per section 166 of MV act:

 

(1) An application for compensation arising out of an accident of the nature specified in sub-section (1) of section 165 may be made—

a)    by the person who has sustained the injury; or

b)    by the owner of the property; or

c)     where death has resulted from the accident, by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased; or

d)    by any agent duly authorised by the person injured or all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased,

 

 

 

As per the section, a person can claim compensation in MACT if, they had sustained an injury in the accident or they are the owner of the property involved/damaged in the accident or they are the Legal Representative of the person who died in road accident or they have been duly authorized by the person who died in road accident. It is always a dispute before the Court in regard to section 166 (C) and (D), as nowhere in the entire act has described the term “Legal Representative”. So, can a married sister be legal representative? Can a brother who is living separately be a legal representative? Can a person be a legal representative who has lost someone in blood relation?

 

In several cases it has been argued that since the married sister, brother who is living separately or any such person in a blood relation were not dependent upon the deceased and thus cannot seek compensation. However the rule of dependency was also clarified in several cases, where the court ruled out that a person who was not dependent on the deceased can seek compensation.

 

In the matter of Gujarat State  Road Transport Corporation, Ahmedabad v Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai and Anr ( 1987 3 SCC 234), the question involved in the case is whether a brother of a person who killed in a motor vehicle accident can claim compensation? The Apex court has given the answer in affirmative and held that

“The first set of cases are those which are referred to in paragraph 5 of the above decision which lay down that every claim application for compensation arising out of a fatal accident would be governed by the substantive provisions of sections 1A and 2 of the 1855 Act and no dependent of the deceased other than the wife, husband, parent or child would be entitled to commence an action for damages against the tort tensors. Amongst these cases are P.B. Kader and others v. Thatchamma and others, A.I.R. 1970 Kerala 241 and Dewan Hari Chand and others v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi and another, A.I.R. 1973 Delhi 67. The second group of cases are those referred to in paragraph 6 of the decision of the Gujarat High Court. They are Perumal v. Ellusamy Reddiar, [1974] ACJ 182 (Mad) and the Vanguard Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Hanumantha Rao, [1975] ACJ 344 (Andhra Pradesh). These cases lay down that while the compensation payable under section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 is restricted to the relatives of the deceased named therein the compensation payable under section 2 thereof may be awarded in favour of the representatives of the deceased who are entitled to succeed to the estate of the deceased. The third group of cases are those referred to in paragraph 7 of the judgment of the Gujarat High Court. They are Mohammed Habibullah and another v. K. Seethammal, A.I.R. 1967 Mad. 123; Veena Kumari Kohli v. Punjab Roadways, [1967] ACJ 297 (Pb.) and Smt. Ishwar Devi Malik v. Union of India, A.I.R. 1969 Delhi 183 which take the view that a claim for compen- sation arising out of the use of a motor vehicle would be exclusively governed by the provisions of sections 110 to 110-F of the Act and bears no connection to claims under the 1855 Act and the Claims Tribunal need not follow the princi- ples laid down under the latter Act. Having considered all the three sets of decisions referred to above, Ahmadi, J. who wrote the judgment in Megjibhai Khimji Vira and another v. Chaturbhai Taljabhai and others (supra) came to the conclusion that an application made by the nephews of the deceased who died on account of a motor vehicle accident was clearly maintainable under section 110-A of the Act.”

In another case Gafaran and Ors v Tilakraj Kapur and Ors (2005 ACJ 1711),  in this case two married sisters of the deceased were not awarded any compensation on the ground that they were not dependant on deceased, it was held that

“Under section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, where the death has resulted from the accident, the claim can be preferred by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased. This provision does not speak of dependants or all such legal representatives being dependent on the deceased. Any legal representative of the deceased can prefer claim before the Tribunal irrespective of he being dependent or not dependent on the deceased.”

 

 

In the case New India Assuarance co. ltd v Ramya Raghavan and Anr. (2006 ACJ 2347), the petitioner was a married daughter of the deceased, the court awarded compensation and held that

“The petitioner is a named dependant under section 1-A of the Fatal Accidents act and entitled to seek compensation for loss of dependency and other permissible heads. The proof of actual dependency is not necessary in law. However, the legal representatives under section 2 of Fatal accidents Act, 1855, are entitled to seek compensation for loss to estate and they cannot seek general damages and loss of dependency. That apart, note 6 of Second schedule enables the legal heirs to seek compensation under section 163-A. The named dependants are entitled to seek compensation under section 163-A.”

 

In the case Manjuri Bera v Oriental Insurance company ltd and anr (2007 10 SCC 643), the question before the court was whether any compensation is payable where the claim filed by a legal representative of the deceased who was actually not dependent on him. The court answered the same in affirmative and held that

“As observed by this Court in Custodian of Branches of BANCO National Ultramarino v. Nalini Bai Naique  the definition contained in Section 2(11) CPC is inclusive in character and its scope is wide, it is not confined to legal heirs only. Instead it stipulates that a person who may or may not be legal heir competent to inherit the property of the deceased can represent the estate of the deceased person. It includes heirs as well as persons who represent the estate even without title either as executors or administrators in possession of the estate of the deceased. All such persons would be covered by the expression 'legal representative'. As observed in Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation v. Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai and Anr., a legal representative is one who suffers on account of death of a person due to a motor vehicle accident and need not necessarily be a wife, husband, parent and child.”

 

In the case Montford Brothers of St. Gabriel & Anr. V United India Insurance & anr. ( Civil appeal no. 3296-3270 of 2007), a charitable society claimed compensation for the death of a “Brother” of the society in a motor car accident. The apex court awarded the compensation to the society.

 

Thus from the above discussed landmark judgement, a married sister/daughter, a brother who is living separately or even a charity can seek compensation before the MACT.

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