In the event of a goods vehicle's accident, gratuitous passengers travelling in it cannot claim compensation for death or injuries from an insurance company, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Only the owner of the goods being carried by the vehicle or his authorised representatives will be entitled to such a compensation, the court said.
The apex court rejected the arguments of a plea made on behalf of a deceased person that he was a member of the marriage party which was escorting the gifts received from the bride's party and hence entitled to compensation. "The witnesses examined on behalf of the claimants themselves stated that about 30-40 persons were travelling in the truck. All 30-40 persons by no stretch of imagination could have been the representatives of the owners of goods, meaning thereby, the articles of gift," the apex court said. Interpreting Section 147 of the Motor Vehicles Act the apex court said that in cases of accidents involving goods, it is only the owner of the goods or his authorised representatives who would be entitled to compensation. A bench of Justices S B Sinha and Cyriac Joseph passed the ruling while setting aside a compensation of Rs 1.4 lakh awarded by the motor accidents tribunal and affirmed by the Punjab & Haryana High Court in this matter. The accident took place on May 15, 2002 when the deceased Sunil Kumar, along with other injured persons belonging to a marriage party of 30-40 persons, was travelling in a Tata goods vehicles which met with an accident in which he died.