New portal soon to check fake accident claims: Centre tells SC

Updated on Jan 26, 2022 03:57 AM IST

The solution was placed by the transport ministry before the Supreme Court on Tuesday after the court came across instances of fake motor accident compensation claims in Uttar Pradesh

The court had sought Centre’s help on December 16 last year after investigation into a fake accident claim in Uttar Pradesh
The court had sought Centre’s help on December 16 last year after investigation into a fake accident claim in Uttar Pradesh
ByAbraham Thomas, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Every motor accident claim in the country will now be identifiable with a unique number generated on a portal, with details of vehicle, time and place of accident, and the details of criminal case registered, in a bid to curb the filing of fake or multiple accident claims.

The solution was placed by the transport ministry before the Supreme Court on Tuesday after the court came across instances of fake motor accident compensation claims in Uttar Pradesh and requested the Centre’s help to plug the loopholes.

The affidavit filed by the ministry said, “The respondent (Centre) has directed National Informatics Centre (NIC) to develop an integrated portal incorporating e-Detailed Accident Report (e-DAR) and Integrated Road Accident Database (IRAD). The ministry has proposed to use multiple checks in the e-DAR portal to restrict fake/multiple claims, based upon a unique number generated at the time of filing of application for claims, and linking the check with FIR no, vehicles involved in the accident, and date/place of accident.”

The affidavit said the portal is being finalised and consultations are on with the NIC to set up the framework.

The court had sought Centre’s help on December 16 last year after investigation into a fake accident claim in Uttar Pradesh by a special investigation team (SIT) unearthed 1,376 fake accident claims in the past seven years, beginning 2015. Following enquiry, the SIT arrested 198 persons, including 28 lawyers, of whom many were charge sheeted and disciplinary proceedings initiated against them by the state bar council.

The bench of justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said, “We observe that the Union government and NIC finalise the format at the earliest so that the same can be implemented pan-India that may assist in curbing filing of false claims.” The matter has been posted on March 8.

On developing the e-DAR, the affidavit said, the Delhi high court in January 2021 directed that the portal should include information about the investigating officer of the road accident case, driver or owner of the vehicles involved, victim/claimant, insurer, the concerned MACT and the state legal service authority.

For the Centre, additional solicitor general KM Nataraj informed the court that since motor accident claims tribunal (MACT) come within the jurisdiction of state governments, for the success of the e-DAR portal, directions will be necessary for states and MACTs to enter details of motor accident cases electronically on the e-DAR portal, as it develops.

The SIT which is probing the fake claim cases in UP produced fresh status report of its investigations into the 247 out of 1,376 claims that have led to 92 criminal cases being registered across various districts in the state. For SIT, advocate Samar Vijay Singh informed the court that so far, 32 charge sheets have been filed besides closure report in four cases.

The bench found that in cases registered as far back as 2015-16, charge sheets were filed only in October-November 2021. It said, “We direct the investigating officer, SIT (Lucknow) to complete the investigation at the earliest and submit charge sheet before the concerned magistrate thereafter.”

The bench also directed the chief judicial magistrate of the respective districts where cases to frame charges in four weeks and conclude trial at the earliest.

The SIT report submitted to the court last month contained the modus operandi adopted by the accused persons in getting fake claims filed. They succeeded in converting a non-road accident injury or death into an accident claim and implanted a vehicle by arranging fake documents of the vehicle, claimant, driver (with regard to workmen compensation), filing of multiple claims before different states, and fudged medical documents for enhanced compensation.

Even for workmen compensation, the SIT discovered that claims were filed in the name of several persons. After the decree was made, the SIT found same photographs were affixed against multiple names on the cheque distribution register, thereby indicating that the claims were fake. Lawyers helped in collecting the amount that would subsequently be transferred either in their own bank accounts or in those belonging to their family members, the SIT report said.

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra appearing for insurance firm ICICI Lombard informed the court that in road accident deaths, the extent of fraud is rampant and while SIT can be constituted by each state in this regard, the police authorities have to be also dealt with.

There is a similar issue relating to reforms in expediting road accident compensation claims before another bench of the Supreme Court where the court had directed the Centre and the insurance companies to develop a mobile app where information can be swiftly updated by the police and insurance companies with regard to motor accident claims.

Additional solicitor general Jayant Sud, who is assisting in that matter, told the court that there is a build-up towards a fraud claim and the other bench is considering several suggestions, which include requirement of PAN for filing claims to verify credentials as it is linked with Aadhaar. However, the bench said it will limit its consideration to the aspect of curbing filing of fake claims.

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