Vehicular mishap in commercial place: Victim liable to get compensation, says HC
In 2014, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) had awarded compensation of ₹28 lakh to the kin of the victimUpdated: Oct 25, 2019, 22:54 IST
The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that an insurance firm can’t deny compensation to the victim of a vehicular mishap reported in a commercial establishment. The high court dismissed an appeal of an insurance firm in a July 2011 mishap in which a quality control engineer, Kulnaresh Singh, was crushed under a reversing truck on a factory premises in Mohali.
In 2014, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) had awarded compensation of ₹28 lakh to the kin of the victim.
The firm’s contention
The firm, however, appealed in the high court against the award. Denying compensation, the insurance company had argued that accident had happened at a workplace and the victim was on duty. The insurance firm had submitted that the family members of the victim had benefitted under the Employees State Insurance (ESI) Act, 1948, and as per Section 53 of this act, there was a bar on securing any other compensation, if it had been availed under this act. “The family, is thus, not liable to be compensated,” the firm had argued.
After compensation was denied, Kulnaresh’s wife Vaneeta had moved the MACT.
The court order
Upholding the award of the compensation, the bench of justice Nirmaljit Kaur observed that it was a factory, but open for public by permission. The truck had permission to enter the premises and the right to access as well.
“This court has no hesitation in holding that the factory was a public place,” the court said, adding that the only point that needed to be discussed was that the victim was on duty at the time of the accident. But, the injury was not due to his employment, the court added.
The court added that a claim under the Motor Vehicles Act would amount to a demand against the third party and would be maintainable in spite of the bar under Section 53 of the ESI Act. The court clarified that purpose of bar under the ESI Act was to ensure that the employer was not faced with more than one claim in relation to the same accident in the case of injury during employment.
“In the present case, the claimant received compensation under the ESI Act as he was present at the work place when the incident occurred, but the injury was not incidental to employment...hence, he cannot be denied his right to claim under the Motor Vehicles Act as the same (the accident) took place due to the negligence of the driver of the offending vehicle,” the court added.