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The Motor Vehicles Claim Tribunal

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Written BY - Sai Sangamitra.


Contents:



Introduction:

In India the court is not the only body to deal with cases and deliver justice, there are some instances as well. One such justice delivery system which acts as an alternative to the civil court is the Claims Tribunal. The Tribunals are constituted to deal with some certain types of cases.


However, the state always strives to protect the basic rights and privileges of people by exercising authority to conduct and supervise society. In course of time tribunals have increased. These several tribunals resemble the improvisation of government concern. We can draw differences between a court and tribunal in four aspects. They are speed of delivery, functions of them, rules and regulation both of them have and finally the expenditure one must spend. Moreover, the tribunal is more considerable than a court after taking concern of statutes, strategies, certainty and discretion.

Tribunals have less validation course when compared with the courts and also there is no obligation to follow proof directives. Tribunals decide cases furnishing the communal derivations. Tribunals lessen the work of courts and deal with cases that have an impact on daily life. Another prime intention behind tribunal establishment is to deal with cases with proficiency in particular areas. In some matters, the tribunal has the provisions of a civil court. Tribunal has to work judiciously and according to the legislation provided.

In this article, the reader can assess the functions, limitations, powers of the Motor Vehicle Claim Tribunal.


The Claims tribunal:

The Claims Tribunal is a body that provides expeditious, affordable adjudication to accident claims or cases.[1] The Claims Tribunals were established in the year 1989 on the 1st of July by the provisions of the Moto Vehicles Act 1988. An appeal can be filed from the Tribunal to the high court. The Tribunals deal with motor vehicle cases that involve mislaying of human and assets or properties. The supervisor of the Motor Vehicle Claims Tribunal [MACT] is the Judicial officer. The high court supervises the tribunal.

The Motor Vehicles Act is a statute legislated to furnish and maintain road safety. The tribunals provide a novel way to issue penalties or liabilities instead of going through a slow process. In dealing with cases, it was determined that the tribunal has to refer to substantive laws to issue liability or compensation. In the Insurance co. vs. Kamal Kamini case, it was concluded that punishment/compensation is determined considering the tort law and acts of Fatal Accidents.[2]


Provisions to establish a Claims Tribunal:

Section 165: The section specifies the regions that can have more Claims Tribunals. The states can constitute more Claims Tribunals in the state depending upon the region determined in the section. It is left out to the discretion of the state in deciding the number of claims tribunals it can have.


Scope of powers of Claims Tribunal:

In Kailash Chandra Sharma v. E. Gurunath case, the court held that the Tribunal must deliver fair justice. The tribunal has the power to document the witnesses/evidence but it has to utilize those for fair delivery.[3] According to the legislation the opponents have to endure all the outlays of lawyers and also for visiting the place occurrence.

Limitations:

The tribunal cannot claim more than compensation of one thousand rupees in case the issue falls under subsection one of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.



The time limit for filing a case:

A claim or case can be filed anytime. But uncommon time like period of six months obligates the party to provide a concrete reason for the delay.



The procedure of Claims Tribunal:

Testimonies a Claims Tribunal demands to submit before filing a claim:

  1. A copy of the First Information Report registered.

  2. Death certificate as per the case.

  3. Identification of pleaders or claimant documents.

  4. Proof of injury is the Medical certificate.

  5. Bills of recovered damages.

  6. Proof of age of the claimant or tribunal.

  7. Documents of insurance policies.

  8. Connection of the claimant with the dead individual or the injured person.

  9. Certificates of disability.

  10. Income certificates of the claimant or the pleader.


Representing claimants or pleaders:

The applicant has a privilege to maintain their legal representative or else the claims Tribunal will appoint one.



The accident report:

This report has identification specifications like the victim's name, specifications of the accident, an account of witnesses and some other information that the Claims Tribunal demands or requires.



Types of compensation the Claims Tribunal issues:

Along with compensation, the Claims Tribunal affixes interest called an Award of Compensation.[4] This is specified in section 171 of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.

As a matter of delivering justice, the Claims Tribunal issues compensation on the wrongdoer. This is called an Award of compensation or punishment. This is mentioned in section 172 of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.



If any party in the case is not saturated with the decision of the Tribunal, the party can file an appeal. The high court of the respective state holds the appeal. High courts entertain appeals within a gap of 90 days following the decision of the tribunal. In case the appellant has averted for some reasons, the appeal is entertained even after the completion of ninety days.



Conditions for compensation:

The tribunal adjudicates the issues which constitute:

  1. The objector thing subjected to the accident must be a motor vehicle.

  2. The accident has resulted in the death of a person or else left injuries to persons or else caused loss or damage to any person or both. The damage can also be of a third person.

The above requirements for compensation are specified in the MV Act 1988. In section 168 to be more precise.



Who are privileged to claim or plead compensation:

Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 mentions the persons who are entitled to claim compensation from the tribunal. They are:

  1. The Individual who is injured from the accident.

  2. A third party or the one whose property has been mutilated.

  3. A legal officer or any representative on behalf of the person died in an accident.

  4. Any associate of dead person representing him [deceased].



A claim can be filed in the tribunals concerning the following:

A case or claim can be filed in the Claims Tribunal which extends its jurisdiction to the pleader's or claimant's residence. In other words, we can say nearby Claims Tribunal of claimant's or pleader's residents. Nearby Claims Tribunal to the defendant's residence.[5]



The procedure of Claims Tribunals:

While conducting an investigation or inquiry into a claim, the tribunal can execute any of the provisions of section 168. It can follow any process or procedure that it feels correct to deliver justice.

The processes of acquiring the witness, ensuring the presence of evidence, considering the witness's statements, proffering the objects and recordings are similar to that of a Civil Court. It was also held in the ORIENTAL INSURANCE CO.ITD V. SUBRATA MITRA case that the tribunal mustn't limit itself to the ingrained provisions.

As per the criminal procedure code 1973, especially Section 195 and chapter XXVI the Claims Tribunal is adjudged as a Civil Court for some purposes.[6] The Claims Tribunal has the privilege to appoint a person or group who resemble their expertise in pertinent aspects to continue the process of enquiry and investigation. The claims that have resulted from motor accidents for compensation can arise under section 140. There is an obligation on part of the State government to assign different works to tribunals if there are more Tribunals.



Composition of Claims Tribunal:

Claims tribunal has members connected to the judiciary in some other way. They are:

  1. The chairman.

  2. The vice-chairman.

  3. Members of the judiciary [a bench]

  4. Some technical members. [the bench].



Distribution of work by the Central Government amongst the benches of Claims Tribunal:

The functions of every bench are specified by a notification from the Central government. Any case of doubt there will be discussed with the chairman and finalized by him itself. The chairman has the privilege to interchange the works between different benches. The difference of opinion will go with the majority opinion.



Appointment of members in the Claims Tribunal:

According to the legislation the member has or is to be the following

1. He/she is a judge in the high court or was a judge of the high court in past.

(OR)

2. He /she is functioning as a judge of the district court or was a judge of that court.

(OR)

3. He/she delegated as a high court judge.



Claims Tribunal proceedings:

The proceedings in claims tribunal are considered as judicial proceedings under sections of Indian Penal Code numbers 193,219 and 228.



Powers to make rules:

To inquire about the incompetency and illegal activities of the members, a particular process is specified in section 8. Sub-section 3 to be more particular. Under section 9 grievances and other service, specifications are mentioned. Chairman's fiscal power is mentioned under section 11.



Mode of Claims Tribunal:

The tribunal has the liberty to adopt the procedure of execution on its own, as mentioned in section 169. The process adopted shouldn't overrule or go against the rules or provisions furnished to the tribunal. This privilege to plan its procedure is given to the tribunal because the tribunal is treated equally with the Civil Court. The motive behind this is that the tribunal shouldn't follow the extravagant process with which a civil court is empowered with. Such an elaborate process of execution contributes to the lagging of cases which affects the very purpose of the establishment of the tribunal. In Krishna Reddy v. Ramulamma case, the court held that the claims tribunal can select a process until it holds the rules.[7]



Pleadings of lapse of time:

The tribunal approves pleadings of this kind only when it leads to infringement of rights to favour the defendant on the virtue of delay in time. The tribunal doesn't entertain pleadings which contribute violations of rights due to time constraint. This was used in Bihar Cooperative MV Insurance Society Ltd v. Rameshwar Rout.



Pleadings for more compensation:

Pleadings filed to receive more compensation are entertained. No restriction to this type of pleadings. In Krishna Devi and others v. Hardev Singh and others case, the court utilized the proposition.


Potential to consider records without proofs:

Accepting records that are not provided with concrete authorisation goes against the rudiment of Justice. So, every tribunal has to rely on documents that have the potential to rely on those proven documents. This was executed in Smt. Amarjit Kaur v. M/s Vanguard Ins. Co. ltd case



Power to encourage solicitation of reinstatement:

Provision to restore the application of claim is available in the Criminal Procedure Code [CPC] the tribunal also accepts or entertains pleadings of restoration – used in judgement of South Indian Tribunal Limited v. M.A.C Tribunal.



The stand of the tribunal in quashing evidence of the pleader:

As the legislation is to provide financial compensation to people who depend on the died in motor vehicle accidents the stringent laws in CPC are not applicable in this case. This was applied in Soma V. v. G. M. Haryana Roadways.


Power to Ex-Parte:

In general, a tribunal has the privilege to borrow some procedure to meet the propositions of natural justice, equity. Every tribunal which has a quasi-judicial character has the authority to take new methods.


Ability to grant awards:

Under provisions in section 35 of the CPC, the tribunal is privileged to grant awards on its own with executing discretion.[8] One can get the return of all the expenditure incurred by he/she if the losing party:

  1. He/she must be the wrongdoer or guilty.

  2. He/she must have a concrete cause for not accepting cost.

  3. Documentation by the court.


The process should not restrict the process of cross-examination by either of the parties:

If either party or a party has suspicion upon the facts involved in the document or the application, they can re-evaluate the facts by the process of cross-examination. It does not mean to take over the re-examination process as the tribunal follows a condensed procedure. This was executed in the Kalpana Ben M. Shah v. Naveen Chandra Jeevanlal Acharya.



Power of Tribunal to evaluate the decision of the Lok-Adalat:

The decision pronounced in Lok-Adalat is not subjected to evaluation or review by the tribunal. In other words, a tribunal has no privilege to re-examine the settlement that has already pronounced in the Lok-Adalat.



The issue will be finalized on basis of documents or reports received:

The tribunal is entitled to provide aid and support to those dependent on the deceased or the person suffering from the motor vehicle accident. The provisions have not empowered the tribunal to abandon or disallow an issue from filing. The tribunal has to accept an issue if it has required proceedings to move forward, the tribunal is obligated to pronounce the decision on behalf of the appropriate party. The tribunal should not leave an issue simply because there are no findings of the issue from the applicant. Tribunal has the right to acquire required particulars from the medical department, the police and remaining departments to deliver justice to those who became incapable. Section 140 has the procedure if the pleader or the claimant is attending or not. The principle utilized in Saramma Scaria and others v. Manthai and another.


Scrutinizing its previous decisions:

To fulfil the very purpose of establishment reviewing previous cases that the tribunal feels is flawed or there is no delivery of justice or against the provisions of the MV Act must be given utmost importance. Some unforeseen or unfortunate flaws or mistakes

like weighing the award or compensation in the adjudication cannot be changed or modified. Previous judgements or decisions cannot be modified even they are flawed. The tribunal is furnished to rectify the elemental mistakes done in past but cannot change the rudimentary basis of judgement.

The tribunal can re-evaluate within the limitations. Reviewing a judgement is allowed but changing the decision as a matter of new facts that were not specified is not allowed or acceptable. Order 47 provides the provision of reviewing of previous judgements but not to tribunals in particular. The tribunal is furnished with a limited base to review. It would be illegal if the decision is changed or modified as a matter of flaw in the statute or the miscarriage of orders given by the highest court. This was held in Oriental Insurance v. Jidad Ali.



Conclusion:

Thus, in conclusion, we can assert that Claims Tribunals are instruments that reduce the burden on higher courts. However, there is ambiguity in the treatment of the Claims Tribunal on whether it is equal to civil court or not. As India is an excessive populated country, there are wide chances of a massive number of cases that arise, so tribunals play a very important role in meeting and addressing all those cases.


[1] The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (section 165)


[2]The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988


[3] The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (section 170)


[4] The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (section 171)


[5]The Fatal Accidents Act, 1855.


[6] The Code of Civil Procedure, 1973 (Section 195).


[7]The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (section 169)


[8] The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (section 172).

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