Deceased pillion rider and gratuitous passenger is not a third party

Genral Manager United India Insurance Company Ltd vs M.Laxmi & others

One Ramulu died in a vehicular accident on 8.10.1996. The scooter was being driven by Mohd. Mohsin. At about 7.00 p.m. the scooter hit a bullock cart which was going in the same direction because of rash and negligent driving of the scooter, the deceased fell down and sustained fatal injuries. At the time of his death, he was 29 years of age. Compensation was claimed from the owner of the scooter. Present appellant was the insurer which had insured the vehicle in question. The insured remained ex-parte. The present appellant filed its counter-affidavit denying all the material allegations. It was pointed out that admittedly, the policy of insurance was an Act policy and the deceased was a pillion rider and also gratuitous passenger and hence, not a third party, and he cannot claim compensation from the insurance company which insured the vehicle. The learned Additional Special Judge for SPE and ACB Cases-cum-V Additional Chief Judge, City Civil Court, Hyderabad (hereinafter referred to as ‘MACT’) who adjudicated the claim petition, held that the policy was an Act policy in respect of the Scooter on the date of accident, therefore, the insurer had no liability. It was categorically held that unless the policy in question covers even a gratuitous passenger, such person, who met with an accident while going in the vehicle in question and received injuries or his legal heirs, in case of his death following such accident, cannot proceed against the concerned insurance company for any compensation. The compensation payable was fixed at Rs.1,07,436/- with 12% interest per annum. It was held that the sum was to be realized from the insured and not from the present appellant. An appeal was preferred by the claimants before the High Court, which, by the impugned judgment relying on a Circular of the Tariff Advisory Committee held that the liability of the insurer was there. The appeal was, accordingly, allowed.

Held : The Supreme Court of India in the detailed judgement held that the order of the High Court is unsustainable and is set aside and that of the MACT is restored.