Application for Compensation under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act
Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is a crucial provision that empowers victims of motor vehicle accidents to claim compensation. It provides a legal remedy for individuals who have suffered due to the negligent or wrongful acts of motor vehicle owners or drivers.
Key Provisions of Section 166
1. Claim Eligibility
Any person who has suffered an injury or the legal representatives of a deceased person can file for compensation.
2. Time Limitation
The application must be filed within six months of the accident. However, the Claims Tribunal may entertain an application after the six months if it is convinced that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time.
The Tribunal with the jurisdiction to adjudicate the application is determined by:
- The location where the accident occurred.
- The residence of the claimant or defendant.
- The place of business of the defendant.
Supreme Court’s Stand on Jurisdiction
1. Pramod Sinha vs. Suresh Singh Chauhan
In this landmark case, the Supreme Court clarified a significant point regarding the jurisdiction of filing an application under Section 166. The Court clarified that claimants are not bound to file an application for compensation under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act exclusively where the accident occurred. They have the choice to approach the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) within the jurisdiction they or the defendant reside or do business.
This judgement emphasised the convenience of the parties, allowing them more flexibility in approaching the Tribunal. Justice Dipankar Datta underscored the national language Hindi’s prevalent usage, negating concerns about language barriers due to varying witnesses.
This judgement has 2 broad implications:
- Flexibility for Claimants- The judgement provides relief to claimants who might find it challenging to file a claim where the accident occurred due to distance or other logistical reasons.
- Language Concerns– Addressed By emphasising Hindi’s prevalent usage, the judgement mitigates concerns related to language barriers, making it easier for claimants and witnesses.
2. Oriental Ins. Co. Ltd vs Dyamavva & Ors
This case discusses the concept of election of remedies, which means that a claimant must choose whether to make their claim under the Motor Vehicles Act or the Workmen’s Compensation Act. The establishment of a Claims Tribunal under the Motor Vehicles Act gives victims of motor accidents the right to apply for compensation through that Tribunal, and the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to entertain such claims is taken away. The Commissioner has the power to distribute compensation to dependents of the workman, and may vary orders as he sees fit. The court also outlined the requirements for giving notice of a claim for compensation, the circumstances under which a claim may be barred, and provides an order for the payment of compensation to the dependents of a deceased workman.
Other Relevant Provisions
Apart from Section 166, there are other provisions and judgments that further elucidate the rights of the victims:
Deals with compensation in the case of death or permanent disablement due to a motor vehicle accident.
Provides for a ‘no-fault’ compensation. Victims can claim compensation without proving any wrongdoing on the part of the vehicle owner or driver.
Understanding the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, especially Section 166, is crucial for accident victims seeking justice. The Supreme Court’s clarification on the jurisdiction aspect further simplifies the compensation claim process, ensuring that justice is both accessible and convenient.