2011(4) ALL MR (JOURNAL) 31
(ANDHRA PRADESH HIGH COURT)
GHULAM MOHAMMED, J.
United India Insurance Co. Ltd.Vs.Ahmadi Begum & Ors.
C.M.A. No.3936 of 2003
5th August, 2010
Petitioner Counsel: R. BRIZ MOHAN SINGH
Respondent Counsel: B. NALIN KUMAR,Mohan, Vinod
(A) Motor Vehicles Act (1988), Ss.147, 166 - Liability of Insurance company - Avoidance of, on ground that policy being an Act policy does not cover deceased, who was a passenger on hire at time of accident, scope - Clear and categorical finding of Tribunal that appellant-Insurer adduced no evidence to show that jeep was used to transport passenger on hire/reward basis and that mere alleging that terms and conditions of policy are violated is not sufficient without adducing any authentic proof - Private vehicle, if allowed to carry persons other than owner or driver as per conditions of registration, all such persons come within expression "third party" - Policy, since covered third party risk, appellant-insurer, held liable for payment of compensation as held by tribunal - Interest on compensation awarded by Tribunal reduced from 9% to 6% p.a. from date of petition till realization - CMA allowed in part. (Paras 5, 6)
(B) Motor Vehicles Act (1988), Ss.147, 166 - "Third party" - Who is - Private vehicle, if allowed to carry persons other than owner or driver as per conditions of registration, all such persons come within expression "third party". (Para 4)
-This appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is filed by the appellant-insurance company against the award, dated 20.03.2003 passed in O.P. No.226 of 1999 by the Chairman, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal-cum-Principal District Judge, Medak at Sangareddy (for short 'the Tribunal').
On 25.06.1997, Mohd. Mansoor Ali was going in a jeep bearing No.AP-11-C-7529 from Sadasivpet to Koheer and when reached near Kamkole village, on N.H. No.9, the driver of the jeep drove it in a rash and negligent manner at high speed and lost control over the vehicle and thereby the jeep turned turtle, as a result of which, said Mohd. Mansoor Ali sustained grievous injuries and succumbed to the injuries on the next day. Respondents 1 to 6-claimants filed the above said O.P. claiming compensation of ' 5,00,000/-. The appellant-insurer and the 7th respondent-owner contested the claim by filing counter-affidavits. By the award, dated 20.03.2003, the Tribunal awarded a sum of ' 3,37,000/- to the claimants.
3. Learned Standing Counsel for the appellant-insurance company has not disputed the quantum of compensation awarded by the Tribunal, but stated that the Tribunal ought to have fastened the liability on the appellant since Ex.B-1-policy is an Act policy and the deceased was a passenger on hire at the time of the accident and therefore, it does not cover the insured in respect of passengers, who travelled in the jeep on hire basis. He prays to reduce the rate of interest from 9% to 6% per annum on the compensation awarded by the Tribunal.
4. On the other hand, learned counsel for respondents 1 to 6-claimants contended that as the jeep is covered by the insurance policy, the appellant is entitled for payment of compensation. He has drawn the attention of this Court to the judgment of this Court in New India Assurance Company Ltd., Secunderabad Vs. Palamoni Suresh, 2010(3) ALD 229, wherein it was held as under :
The expression 'third party' is wide enough to cover any person other than the insured and the insurer. Nothing is given in the policy that the premium of ' 700/- is received towards a third party driver. It, therefore, follows that if a private vehicle is allowed to carry persons other than the owner or the driver as per the conditions of registration, all such persons come within the expression 'third party'. Ex.B-1 policy contains certain limitations and they are mentioned as under :
"The policy covers use of the vehicle for any purpose other than -
(a) Hire or Reward
(b) Carriage of Goods (other than samples of personal luggage)
(c) Organized racing
(d) Pace making
(e) Speed Testing and Reliability Trials
(f) Use in connection with Motor Trade."
5. There is no dispute as regards the quantum of compensation awarded by the Tribunal. The dispute is with regard to the liability fastened on the appellant-insurer. R.W.1, the employee of the appellant-insurer, stated that the driver of the crime jeep was having driving licence of light motor vehicle and that the insurance of the crime vehicle does not cover the risk of the passengers travelling on hire basis. He further stated that as the deceased was travelling on hire basis at the time of the accident, the insurance company is not liable to pay compensation to the claimants. The Tribunal has clearly and categorically held that the appellant-insurer did not adduce any evidence to show that the jeep was used to transport the passengers on hire/reward basis and that mere alleging that the terms and conditions of the insurance policy are violated is not sufficient without adducing any authentic proof. Further, as per Ex.B-1-policy, an amount of Rs.225/- was paid towards premium apart from third party risk. As per the judgment of this Court in New India Assurance Company's case (supra), if a private vehicle is allowed to carry persons other than the owner or the driver, as per the conditions of registration, all such persons come within the expression 'third party'. Since the policy in this case covers the third party risk, the appellant-insurer is liable for payment of compensation as held by the Tribunal. Interest on the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is reduced from 9% to 6% per annum from the date of the petition till realisation. The award of the Tribunal in all other aspects shall remain unaltered.