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U.P. State Road Transport ... vs Motor Accident Claims Tribunal ...

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|30 August, 1993


1. U.P. State Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred as the Corporation) has filed this writ petition challenging the order of IIIrd Additional District Judge, Jaunpur passed under the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, who has condoned the delay in filing the claim petition, after recording reasons of the same and directed the District Judge, Jaunpur for presenting it for registration according to law. Writ Petition No. Nil of 1993, U.P. State Road Transport Corporation v. Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and Smt. Anari Devi will be treated to be the leading case and the disposal of this writ petition will be the disposal of the remaining five cases where common question of law and facts are involved and it is not necessary to make mention of all the facts of the other cases.
2. The claimant filed a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (IIIrd Additional District Judge, Jaunpur), alleging that Saheb Dayal had died in an accident while travelling in Bus No. 31571 on 8.2.1978 and claimed a sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- as compensation. Alongwith the claim petition an application was also filed for condonation of delay under Section 110(A)(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 and the said application was numbered as Misc. Case No. 134 of 1986. Objection was also filed on behalf of the Corporation.
3. Heard the Counsel for the petitioner who has attacked the order of the Claims Tribunal dated 15.4.1993, condoning the delay in presenting the application, mainly on the following grounds-
(1) Under Section 166(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 the limitation for filing an application for condonation of delay is 6 months and the Claim Tribunal has further power to condone the delay of 6 months in case sufficient cause has been shown for not moving application in time but the claim petition after the expiry of one year cannot be entertained. According to the petitioner that since the application has been entertained after an expiry of one year the order passed by the Tribunal is erroneous.
(2) In view of the enforcement of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 the proceedings should be governed under the new Act, and not under Act of 1939.
(3) That the benefit of repeal law was not available to the claimants solely because the cause of action for the claim arose before the repeal.
(4) In any case sufficient cause has not been shown for condonation of delay as the Claim Tribunal without discussing this aspect of the matter has condoned the delay.
(5) Provisions of Section 6 of the Limitation Act be invoked where an application for compensation is filed if the minor has attained the majority. According to the petitioner respondent No. 3 was still a minor when the claim petition was filed, as such, on this ground also the proceedings were not maintainable.
4. The Counsel for the petitioner has also placed reliance on a decision of AIR 1991 S.C. page 2156.
5. Admittedly in the present case the application for condonation of delay was pending under Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 on the date of enforcement of Act, 1988 and in view of this the rulings on which the Corporation has placed reliance of the apex Court referred to above will have no application. A perusal of the judgment referred to above, paragraph 5 of the aforesaid judgment reads as under:
We are unable to agree. Clause (e) is not attracted because, by the enactment of the new law the remedy of the appellant has not been affected at all. His right to claim compensation by filing the claim within the same period of limitation has been preserved. And there was no application for condonation of delay in a proceeding pending at the time of repeal so as to allow him to claim any privilege available under the old Act. So far the applicability of Clause (e) is concerned, the question depends on whether the appellant had got an accrued right or privilege under the old law which he could not have been deprived of by the repealing legislation.
6. Right of filing of an application for compensation where some of the claimants were minor, benefit of Section 6 of the Limitation Act was available and period of limitation for those claimants who were suffering from disability of minority, it was open for them to file the petition within the period of limitation after the period of their disability has been seized. In the present case minor claimants and major claimants are joint. Therefore the delay of filing of the petition and condonation of the delay was to be considered on merit.
7. In AIR 1982 NOC 34, a decision of Allahabad High Court has held that joint application for compensation under Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act where the widow and two minor children were the claimants can get the benefit of Sections 6 and 7 of the Limitation Act Under similar set of facts and circumstances in 1981 ACJ 529 the benefit of Section 6 was given to the minor claimants. If the claim petition of the minors was maintainable on the mere fact that some of the claimants were major the claim petition could be dismissed as a whole. Similar controversy arose before the Bombay High Court in 1991 ACJ 354 where the claimants were directed to file claim petition by seeking the condonation of delay and it was held that the remedy was not extinguished by coming into force the Act, 1988 and Section 6 of the General Clauses Act saves the rights and liabilities which have accrued and incurred under the repealed statute. Proceedings under Motor Vehicles Act, under Section 110-A was in the nature of a suit and Section 6 of the Limitation Act excludes the time up to date of attaining majority. Right of a suit or an appeal is substantive right and a substantive right cannot be taken away by enforcement of the Act, 1988. Similar controversy was the subject matter before the Kerala High Court in 1992 ACJ 225 and 1992 ACJ 1093 (Gujarat High Court) and in these decisions application of the minors were entertained after the expiry of so called period of limitation fixed under the Act of 1988. A perusal of the Section 166(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 does not exclude the operation of the Section 6 of the Limitation Act. On a correct interpretation after the perusal of the various provisions, it is clear that the period of limitation prescribed under Section 166(3) starts running after the minor has attained majority. As the application for condonation of delay was pending on the date of enforcement of Act, 1988, and, as such, it was to be considered according to the provisions of old Act and the argument of the Counsel for the petitioner that after the expiry of 12 months the application was not maintainable and was the time barred is without any substance as admittedly at the time of filing of the application for condonation of delay, there was no period of limitation and prescribing the period of 12 months after the enforcement of the Act, 1988, the case was to be governed under the provisions of the old Act and the new Act will have no retrospective effect.
8. As regards the contention of the Counsel for the petitioner that the reasons have not been recorded is without any substance. The Tribunal was within its competence to consider the question of condonation of delay and having came to the conclusion that the application pending on the enforcement of Act, 1988 will not take away the right of the claimants to consider their application for condonation of delay and there being recorded the reasons for condonation the Tribunal has not exceeded its jurisdiction nor any error has been committed by the Tribunal in passing the impugned order.
9. By now it is well settled that Section 5 of the Limitation Act should be liberally construed. One of such decisions reported in 1956 ALJ 367 while considering the question of condonation of the delay a discretion has to be exercised by the Court below and whether interference is permissible under Article 226 or a revision, the division bench has observed as follows:
There is always room for an honest difference of opinion as to whether a certain set of facts amounts to sufficient cause or not. The Courts below must have the discretion to decide the question for themselves, and unless the Court below travels beyond the limits within which discretion may be reasonably exercised, or in other words, unless it can be said that it has taken a perverse or absurd view, the exercise of the discretion by it will not be interfered with in appeal and much less in revision.
10. House of Lords in Evans v. Bartlam and Osention (Charles) & Co. v. Johnstone 1937 A.C. 473 has broadly statuted as to what is the sufficient cause. Actual words are as follows:
All the Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act requires as a condition for the exercise of the discretionary power of admitting an application presented after time is sufficient cause for not presenting it within time. There has been much conflict of opinion as to what constitutes sufficient cause, but in my opinion it must be taken to be the view of this Court that the expression 'sufficient cause' should be so construed as to advance substantial justice.
11. When the very purpose of incorporating Section 5 of the Limitation Act is to extend the period of limitation where an application has been filed after the delay and the Court of fact having been satisfied that on a given set of facts sufficient cause was made out for not filing the application within the prescribed period of limitation the question arises whether in such a case the Court will interfere in a writ jurisdiction. In the instant case in an accident Saheb Dayal died while travelling in a bus of U.P. State Road transport Corporation and the U.P. State Road Transport Corporation was under statutory obligation to the merit or compensation and filing of application along with Section 5 of the Limitation Act where some of them were minor, it will not be a proper exercise of discretion to interfere in writ jurisdiction when the delay was condoned, giving benefit of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. Construing Section 5 of the Limitation Act liberally was the subject matter of a Full Bench decision reported in AIR 1922 All. 490 and another decision, ILR 19 All. 348, Privy Council in Brij Inder Singh v. Kansbi Ram approved the decision of the full bench decision of this Court. The relevant portion of the aforesaid decision reads as under:-
Expression 'sufficient cause' should be construed liberally so as to advance the cause of substantial justice.
In ILR 13 Madras 269 in the case of Krishna v. Chathapan, it is held that:
Sufficient cause should receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice when no negligence, nor inaction, nor want of bonafides is imputable to the appellant.
12. For the reasons stated above I do not find it a fit case for interference under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and accordingly the writ petition fails and is dismissed at the admission stage. A copy of this judgment be placed on other 5 connected writ petitions.
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U.P. State Road Transport ... vs Motor Accident Claims Tribunal ...


High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

30 August, 1993
  • S Misra