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Hit-and-run case: SC Issues Directions to Address Lack of Compensation Claims [Read Order]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      15 January, 2024 04:34 PM      0 Comments
Hit-and-run case: SC Issues Directions to Address Lack of Compensation Claims [Read Order]

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has several directions to address issue of less number of claims made for compensation in hit and run cases, even though a scheme has been brought into force on April 1, 2022.

A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal said if the police conclude that it is a case of hit and run accident, they must inform the victim or his or her legal representatives about the availability of the Scheme.

"There are cases where the police, as well as the Claims Enquiry Officer, are aware of the fact that a hit and run accident has occurred.

However, no efforts are made to ensure that the persons entitled to seek compensation file their claims," the bench said.

The court noted that a Parliament reply stated that in the last five years, there were 660 deaths in hit and run cases, and there were 113 injury cases for which compensation of Rs 184.60 Lakhs was disbursed.

"If we compare the number of hit and run road accidents reported and the number of cases registered for seeking compensation, what stares at the face is that negligible number of victims have taken advantage of the said scheme. One reason may be that the victims were not made aware of the existence of the scheme," the bench said.

The court noted under Sub-section (2) of Section 161 of Motor Vehicles Act provides that in case of death of any person resulting from hit and run motor accident, a compensation of Rs two lakhs or such higher amount as may be prescribed by the central government should be paid. In case of grievous injury, the compensation amount is Rs 50 thousand.

"The value of money diminishes with time. We direct the central government to consider whether the compensation amounts can be gradually enhanced annually. The central government shall take an appropriate decision on this issue within eight weeks from today," the bench said.

The court also directed the central government to consider whether time limit can be extended as one time measure for making claims.

Going through records published by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of the Government of India from 2016-2022 that there were 55,942 hit and run motor accidents in 2016, which increased to 65,186 in 2017, 69,621 in 2018, and 69,621 in 2019. In years 2020, 2021 and 2022, the figures were recorded as 52,448, 57,415 and 67,378 respectively.

The Compensation of Victims of Hit and Run Motor Accidents Scheme, 2022 provided for the setting up of the Standing Committee and District Level Committees. The Standing Committee is entrusted to make recommendations to the central government for the amendment of the Scheme for its better and more effective implementation.

"The Standing Committee must look into the causes of non-implementation of the Scheme and direct corrective measures to be taken to ensure that every claimant who is entitled to the benefit of the Scheme is encouraged to take benefit thereof. If the Scheme cannot be effectively implemented without making amendments, the Standing Committee must recommend amendments to the Scheme," the bench said.

The court directed the Standing Committee to make recommendations to the central government, if necessary for amendment of the scheme.

It should address the major concern that notwithstanding the availability of the scheme, very few eligible claimants are taking its benefit of the Scheme; the Standing Committee should issue elaborate directions for developing public awareness and for sensitisation of the members of the public about it, the court directed.

The court scheduled the matter, related to a plea filed by S Rajaseekaran, for further hearing on April 22, 2024.

 

[Read Order]



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