High Court : Acquittal of Driver Involved in Accident no Ground for Denial of Insurance Claim (Read Judgement)

The Punjab & Haryana HC has made it clear that acquittal of driver in criminal proceedings pertaining to accident of a vehicle & a complainant turning hostile in the case isn’t a ground for denial of insurance claim to the family of the person killed in that accident.

Justice Lisa Gill of the HC passed these orders while upholding the decision of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal(MACT), Chandigarh, directing the Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OICL) to pay Rs 77.77 lakh claim to the family members of an ex- serviceman who was serving as constable in Chandigarh police when he died after allegedly being hit by a bus.

The man, Jagtar Singh, 42, died on Dec 11, 2016 after he was hit by a bus while crossing a road in the city. It was alleged that the accident was caused by rash & negligent driving by the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) bus driver.

On Dec 21, 2018, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal(MACT) awarded Rs 77,77,322 to the deceased’s family. The amount was to be paid by Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OICL) which had insured the bus.

Aggrieved from these orders, the insurance company had approached the HC arguing that the vehicle in question has been falsely involved in this matter only to extract compensation. The firm added that the propounder of the First Information Report (FIR) Narinder Kumar has turned hostile during criminal proceedings & the driver of the bus had been acquitted in the said proceedings. The company said it wasn’t liable for compensation in this case as it wasn’t proved on record that the bus in question was involved in the accident.

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Hearing this, the HC found that the identity of the offending vehicle was duly established on record. The bus was found to have been taken in custody by the police from the spot of the accident & was released on superdari.

“The complainant may have turned hostile in the criminal proceedings but in the wake of the positive evidence on record in the present proceedings where the claimant has to prove his case on the touchstone of preponderance of probabilities & not beyond reasonable doubt, it cann’t be concluded that the offending bus wasn’t involved in the accident. Acquittal of the accused driver in the criminal proceedings by itself isn’t a ground to non-suit the claimants in the given factual matrix,” observed the HC while upholding the tribunal’s order.

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