The Supreme Court has suggested creating a special fund to compensate three categories of vehicle accident victims who are usually shortchanged by insurance firms.
First, there are those hurt or killed in hit-and-run accidents, where the offending vehicle cannot be traced. Second come those who have accidents while driving vehicles whose insurance had lapsed and was not renewed. Third are those who, by pure chance, happened to be travelling in a vehicle that meets with an accident: if, for instance, they had taken a lift from an unknown driver. (The court calls them ‘gratuitous’ passengers.)
Hearing the case filed by Jai Prakash, a motor accident victim against the National Insurance Company, the court said the fund’s corpus could be built up by imposing a new cess on petrol or a one-time tax on every new vehicle sold.
A three-judge bench also had a slew of other suggestions to help these accident victims. The clause relating to ‘third party insurance’ could be amended, it proposed, to include all others — apart from the owner — involved in the accident, so as to take care of gratuitous passengers too.
It also issued instructions to state director generals of police to ensure that an ‘accident information report’ is sent to the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal within a month of the FIR being registered.