Read Order: Lakhbir Singh v. Harwant Singh and Others

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, January 14, 2022: While deciding an appeal against the compensation granted by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that in motor accident claim cases, findings have to be returned based on preponderance of probabilities. 

 In this case, the claimant was on his motorcycle when he met with an accident by a car. As per the claimant, the offending vehicle was being driven rashly and negligently on the wrong side by the appellant. An FIR was thus registered. The appellant-driver filed a written statement averring that he was falsely implicated to get a claim and that he was not driving the vehicle on the day of the accident. He also claimed that he was never employed as the driver of the vehicle by its owner.

The Tribunal, however, awarded compensation to the claimant on account of injuries suffered by him. It also imposed liability upon the driver and the erstwhile owner of the vehicle giving him the right to recover his share from the present owner. The Tribunal returned a finding that registration of an FIR and presentation of a chargesheet against the driver proved that he was the driver of the offending vehicle on the date of the incident. Hence, this appeal was filed. 

The appellant’s counsel argued that the evidence on record was misconstrued by the Tribunal as nobody was initially named in the FIR and the appellant’s name was included at a later date without any valid reason. Further, he argued that merely registering an FIR and presenting the charge sheet could not lead to a conclusion that the appellant was the driver, especially given the other evidence on record which was disregarded. Regarding the amount awarded, it was submitted that bills submitted by the claimant were not proved as per law.

On the contrary, the claimant’s counsel argued that the presentation of the challan against the appellant sufficiently proved that the vehicle was driven by the appellant-driver. He also argued that objections against the bills could not be raised for the first time in appeal and that the owner of the vehicle did not even challenge the appeal. 

After considering the rival submissions, the bench of Justice Sudhir Mittal recorded its findings on the question of whether the Tribunal was correct in returning its finding against the appellant-driver. Based on a perusal of statements of the claimant, his brother and of the investigating officer before the Trial Court, the High Court observed that the appellant’s name was not known to any of them and how and when he came into the picture was also unknown to them. 

The Court looked into other pieces of evidence adduced in the case and said, “it cannot be held that on the basis of preponderance of probabilities that the appellant was the driver of the offending vehicle. The evidentiary value of the challan pales into insignificance in view of the statement of the IO that he did not know how the name of the accused-driver surfaced in the investigation.”

Thus, giving the aforementioned reasoning, the appeal was allowed and the finding of the Tribunal that the appellant was the driver of the offending vehicle was set aside. However, no opinion was expressed on the quantum of compensation as none was required to be expressed. 

0 CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment