The Supreme Court directed the New India Assurance Company to compensate the kin of all the 46 victims who died 23 years ago after an explosion took place because of a leaking petrol tanker in Satara district.
A bench comprising justice Aftab Alam and justice RM Lodha dismissed the company’s appeal against the compensation saying the mishap was not a road accident but an explosion.
The explosion took place four hours after the vehicle was involved in an actual accident.
The relatives of the deceased made a claim of Rs 15,000 under the “no fault compensation”
provision of the Motor Vehicles Act.
The court upheld the Bombay high court verdict and said the claim made by the relatives was clearly covered by an earlier apex court judgement that was delivered in a case related to the same incident.
The compensation in that case was, however, sought by the son of just one victim.
On October 29, 1987, a petrol tanker collided with a truck on national highway 4. The tanker was on its way to Bangalore. The accident took place near Kavathe village in Satara district.
After the accident, the tanker fell into a five-feet-deep pit and petrol started leaking after that.
Locals gathered at the site and began carrying the fuel away despite the driver warning of a mishap.
Four hours later, an explosion took place that killed 46 people on the spot.
The son of one of the victims, Vatschala Uttam More, moved the motor accidents’ claim tribunal for compensation.
The tribunal rejected the claim on the grounds that the victim did not die during an accident but got killed while stealing petrol.
This finding was reversed by the Bombay High Court in 1990. It awarded the compensation that was upheld by SC on July 17, 1991.
Similar claims filed for insurance were once again rejected by the tribunal.
However, the HC ruled in favour of the claimants following which the insurance company approached the apex court.