Delay in FIR no reason for denying compensation: SC

The Supreme Court awarded Rs 2.5 lakh to family members of a minor boy who became permanently disabled in the mishap.

Updated: Feb 20, 2011, 15:00 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that compensation cannot be denied to a victim of a road accident merely on the ground that there was delay in lodging an FIR and awarded Rs 2.5 lakh to family members of a minor boy who became permanently disabled in the mishap.

A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma set aside the order of Rajasthan High Court and Motar Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) which had refused to grant any compensation on the ground that the FIR in the case was lodged by the father two months after the accident took place.

"We are of the considered opinion that the MACT as well as the high court committed error in coming to the conclusion that lodging the FIR belatedly would result in dismissal of the claim petition," the bench said, adding, "although lodging of FIR is vital in deciding motor accident claim cases, delay in lodging the same should not be treated as fatal for such proceedings."

The court passed the order on a plea filed by 16-year-old boy Ravi seeking compensation for the permanent injury he suffered in a road accident case nine years back. He approached the apex court after his plea of compensation was dismissed by the tribunal and the high court on the ground that there was delay on the part of his father in lodging FIR in the case.

Not agreeing with the findings of the high court and tribunal, the apex court asked the National Insurance Company Limited, which had insured the erring vehicle and owner of the truck to pay compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh to the boy.

"It is well-settled that delay in lodging FIR cannot be a ground to doubt the claimant`s case. Knowing the Indian conditions as they are, we cannot expect a common man to first rush to the police station immediately after an accident.”

"They are not expected to act mechanically with promptitude in lodging the FIR with police. Delay in lodging the FIR thus, cannot be the ground to deny justice to the victim," the bench said.

"It is clearly established that, appellant (Ravi) had suffered severe injuries of permanent nature which have not been cured till date despite several surgeries. In our most modest computation, looking into the nature of injuries which are permanent in nature, we are of the opinion that a total amount of Rs 2.5 lakh to be awarded to him."

In this case, Ravi was hit by the erring truck on October 07, 2001 and he was critically injured. His father rushed him to hospital and he remained hospitalised there for many days. After two months his father approached police and lodged an FIR in the case against the erring driver.

He then approached Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Jaipur for compensation but it was dismissed on September 19, 2007. He then moved the high court which also refused to grant relief to him and dismissed his petition on October 29, 2007.

Aggrieved by the order of the tribunal and the high court, Ravi filed an appeal in the apex court.