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High Court Of Delhi|05 July, 2012


* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI Date of decision: 5th July, 2012 + MAC.APP. 398/2008 D.T.C. & ANR Appellants Through: Ms. Avnish Ahlawat, Adv.
versus DOLI SHARMA & ORS. Respondents Through: Ms. Shantha Devi Raman, Adv. for R-3.
Mr. Gurmit Singh Hans, Adv. for R-2 & R-4.
1. The Appellant Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) impugns the judgment dated 01.03.2008 passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (the Claims Tribunal) whereby while awarding compensation of `5,71,770/- in favour of the Respondents No.1, 2 and 4 (the Claimants) exonerated the Third Respondent, the National Insurance Company and fastened the liability on the Appellants to pay the compensation awarded on the ground that the Second Appellant (Anand Singh Hazra), the driver of the DTC bus did not possess a valid driving licence at the time of the accident.
2. The entire compensation amount was deposited in terms of the order dated 18.04.2009 passed by this Court. A sum of `50,000/- each was ordered to be released in favour of the each of the Claimants by the earlier said order.
3. During the course of arguments a short submission has been raised by Ms. Avnish Ahlawat, learned counsel for the Appellants. It is urged that the Second Appellant (the driver) possessed a valid driving licence to drive a bus valid upto 13.02.2005. The driver applied for renewal of the licence in time. The accident took place on 02.04.2005 and the licence was renewed only on 19.04.2005. It is stated that in the circumstances, the liability was of the Insurance Company to indemnify the insured.
4. To buttress her arguments, Ms. Avnish Ahlawat, Advocate has taken me through the evidence of the Second Appellant, who was examined as RW-1 before the Claims Tribunal. In his examination-in-chief, he deposed as under:-
“The validity of my DL expired on 13.02.05 and the same was renewed by me from the competent authority on 19.04.05. After validity expiry of my DL I join a training in my training institute at Nand Nagri depot for 3-6 days and they have took my test after one month. Then immediately I applied for renewal of my DL on the basis of my training at Ashok Vihar Transport authority. They have given me two dates as my photo could not be taken there. Finally I got my renewal of DL on 19.04.05. I was never disqualified to possess a valid DL from any competent authority under any law. As such I am possessing a valid DL since 19.11.1984. Photocopy of the DL of the previous and renewal licence are Mark A and Mark B respectively. It takes 2-3 months for renewal the DL. I have not made any delay intentionally to renew my DL. The copy of insurance of the bus bearing no.DL- 1PB-4894 is also Mark as C.”
5. In cross-examination by the Insurance Company, the driver testified as under:-
“It is correct that my DL was expired on 13.02.05 and it was renewed on 19.04.05. It is correct that accident took place on 02.04.05. It is correct that my licence was not renewed upto 02.04.05. I have already applied for renewal of my DL and entire documents have been submitted by me in the authority itself. I could not file any documents before the court as I have already submitted in the authority. Vol. on basis of those documents my licence was renewed subsequently. It is wrong to suggest that I applied for and tried to get my licence renewed only after the accident. I do not remember about my training in DTC department after expiry of my DL….”
6. It is evident from the driver’s testimony extracted above that he had not given any date as to when he applied for renewal of the licence. He did not file any document to show that he applied for renewal of the licence before the expiry of the licence.
7. As per provision of Section 15 of the Motor Vehicles Act, there is a grace period of 30 days after expiry of the licence during which the licence remains valid. The Second Appellant did not get the licence renewed even during said period of 30 days which expired on 14.03.2005. In the absence of any material produced, it cannot be said that the driver applied for renewal of the licence either before expiry or during the grace period of 30 days.
8. The case is covered by judgment of this Court in D.T.C. v. JAGDISH KATARIA & ORS., MAC APP.565/2008, decided on 05.03.2012 whereby a batch of Appeals filed by the DTC raising the same question was decided. This Court laid down that if the driver possesses an expired driving licence it would amount to breach of the terms of policy.
9. On the basis of the Supreme Court judgments in Sohan Lal Passi v. P. Sesh Reddy, (1996) 5 SCC 21; New India Assurance Co., Shimla v. Kamla and Ors., (2001) 4 SCC 342, United India Insurance Company Ltd. v. Lehru & Ors., (2003) 3 SCC 338; and National Insurance Company Limited v. Swaran Singh & Ors., (2004) 3 SCC 297, in case of breach of the terms of policy, the Insurance Company is made liable to pay the compensation with right to recover the same on the premise that a poor Claimant may not have means to enforce execution against an individual. In this case, the Appellant DTC has already deposited the award amount and a compensation of `50,000/- each to the three Claimants has already been disbursed. In the circumstances, it would not be appropriate to direct the Insurance Company to pay the compensation in the first instance with the right to recover the same from the DTC.
10. No other ground has been raised.
11. For the above reasons, the Appeal is devoid of any merit; the same is accordingly dismissed.
12. The remaining compensation shall be released in favour of the Respondents No.1, 2 and 4 (the Claimants) in terms of the order passed by the Claims Tribunal.
13. The statutory amount of `25,000/- shall be refunded to the Appellant DTC.
JULY 05, 2012 vk (G.P. MITTAL) JUDGE
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High Court Of Delhi

05 July, 2012
  • P Mittal