42 yrs on, man gets compensation for accident in Maharashtra



Thane: A deaf and mute person, who lost his leg over four decades ago in an accident, has received compensation from the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal here, which held the truck driver guilty of negligence.

In perhaps the oldest case decided by any MACT in the country, it held that the truck owner Dilip Baliram Mhatre from Vadole village of Ambernath town in Thane district, and the New India Insurance Company are jointly liable to pay a compensation of Rs 1.69 lakh along with an interest at 6 per cent per annum from the date of the claim, filed in 1983.

The tribunal also ordered that from the amount realised, Rs 75,000 be kept in a fixed deposit of nationalised bank in the name of the applicant for a period of three years.

On December 16, 1970, when Dilip, then aged 10, was playing along with other school children in a school ground at Vadol village, a speeding lorry coming from Ambernath hit him crushing his left leg.

He was treated at a hospital but ultimately it had to be amputated, the tribunal was told by his mother Leelabai.

Advocate Pradip Tillu submitted that Dilip had lost all his future prospects due to the accident.

According to the applicant (Dilip), the accident took place due to rash and negligent driving of the truck driver, who has now passed away.

Even though the accident took place in 1970, the claim was filed only in 1983, that too seeking condonation of delay which was allowed in 1993 by the tribunal.

The applicant calculated a total compensation amount of Rs 2,70,250 for his treatment at the hospital for 9-10 months.

However, due to inability to pay the tribunal's stamp fee, Leelabai prayed for an amount of Rs 1,00,000 by way of compensation and undertook to pay the deficit fee, if the claim allowed was more than Rs 1 lakh, she told the tribunal.

Dilip's application was filed by advocate Pratik Acharya in 1983, who died in mid 1990s during the pendency of the trial.

Also, owner of the truck, Caption Sham Singh, died and hence his two legal heirs Santok Singh and Ham Singh were made respondents.

However, as neither of them appeared before the tribunal and the insurance company did not respond, the matter was decided ex-parte against the three.

Passing the verdict, the tribunal noted that in 1981 the vehicle was registered in the RTO office and was insured with New India Insurance Company for the period - December 1, 1970 to December 30, 1971.

"In 1970-71 tax insurance policy was verified and accordingly entry was taken in the register. However, due to shifting of RTO office, the same was not produced before the tribunal. So a letter issued by RTO is produced," Dilip's counsel said in his submission claiming that the insurance company was also liable to pay compensation.

While holding both the owners of the truck and the insurance company liable for compensation, the tribunal held that "the opponents-- owners of the vehicle, and the insurance company, are liable to pay the compensation to the applicant."

Dealing with the accident part of the case, the tribunal noted that it was clear the accident occurred due to rash and negligent driving of the driver.

"Also, it cannot be over sighted that the applicant was deaf and mute... So possibility cannot be ruled out that he could not hear the horn of lorry and he came in front of the truck and it became impossible to avoid the accident.

"The possibility cannot be ruled out that due to sudden dash given by the lorry driver the applicant sustained the injury. It is also necessary to note that not only the applicant sustained dash by the motor lorry, the driver of the vehicle crushed his left leg below the tyre."

"So it shows that the lorry driver was negligent while driving the vehicle. He was the eye witness of the accident, but the insurance company or the opponents failed to examine their driver before the tribunal. In such circumstances, there is no option than to hold that the accident occurred due to negligence of the lorry driver," the tribunal held.

PTI