The Supreme Court in the case of Mohammed Siddique v. National Insurance Company Ltd. on January 8, 2020 held that the violation of law by itself in the Motor Accident Cases, cannot lead to a conclusion of contributory negligence on the part of petitioner. The judgement to this effect was passed by division bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justice V. Ramasubramanian.
Facts of the case are as following:
The son of the appellants who was aged about 23 years, died on 7.09.2008 as a result of the injuries sustained in a road traffic accident two days after the accident. The victim was one of the 2 pillion riders on a motor cycle and he was thrown off the vehicle when a car hit the motor cycle from behind.
The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal concluded that the accident was caused due to the rash and negligent driving of the car. The Tribunal had awarded an amount of Rs.11,66,800/- as the total compensation. Aggrieved by the order of the Tribunal, the Insurance Company had filed an appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The findings of the Tribunal were confirmed by the High Court, but the HC also made a remark that the victim was also guilty of contributory negligence, in as much as there were 3 persons on the motor cycle at the time of the accident, and ordered a reduction of 10% of the compensation awarded by the Tribunal. The HC also revisited the calculation of compensation and arrived at a total amount of Rs. 4,60,000/-. After deduction of 10% towards contributory negligence, the compensation to be awarded was Rs. 4,14,000/-. Aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, the Appellant approached the Supreme Court.
The SC in paragraph 14 of the judgment held that,
“…. The fact that the deceased was riding on a motor cycle along with the driver and another, may not, by itself, without anything more, make him guilty of contributory negligence….”
“…. a person was a pillion rider on a motor cycle along with the driver and one more person on the pillion, may be a violation of the law. But such violation by itself, without anything more, cannot lead to a finding of contributory negligence, unless it is established that his very act of riding along with two others, contributed either to the accident or to the impact of the accident upon the victim….”
The SC also found errors in the HC’s method of calculation and proceeded to overturn the HC judgement and restore the judgement of the Tribunal in its entirety.
Author: Parth Thummar