The Centre, Delhi Government and the police have been asked by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal to devise a mechanism to ensure that uninsured vehicles do not ply on roads, observing that it becomes difficult for accident victims to get compensation after accidents involving offending vehicles. The tribunal said mere prosecution of owners of offending vehicles for driving them without insurance under Motor Vehicles Act, was “insufficient to alleviate the suffering of victims” and the responsibility laid on the State to ensure that uninsured vehicles are not permitted to be plied.
MACT Presiding Officer Anoop Kumar Mendiratta made the observations while awarding Rs 14.2 lakh compensation to 63- year-old Tulsi Ram, a hawker who became 100 per cent disabled after being hit by a rashly-driven auto rickshaw at Paharganj bridge while he was riding a bicycle in July 2009. The victim told the tribunal that he was earning Rs 7,000 per month by selling eatables and was now confined to bed after the accident due to permanent disability.
The auto driver and the owner had claimed that the victim was negligent as his bicycle got dis-balanced due to his old age and came in front of the auto causing the accident. The tribunal, however, said “considering the fact that rash and negligent driving is to be assessed on the basis of touchstone of preponderance of probability and a holistic view is to be taken, it has been proved on record that the accident had been caused due to rash and negligent driving of the offending vehicle by respondent number 1 (auto driver).”
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It said that recovery of compensation from the owner or driver of the uninsured autorickshaw was beset with difficulties, and the rehabilitation of the victim cannot be overlooked. The MACT directed Delhi Legal Services Authority to consider grant of compensation to the victim under Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme for his rehabilitation.
It also said there was an alarming increase in number of accidents where the offending vehicles were uninsured making it difficult for victims to get compensation. “A copy of this order be accordingly sent to Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Commissioner of Police, Delhi for compliance and action taken report be filed within four weeks,” the tribunal said.
“Considering the plight of victims of motor vehicular accidents, one cannot be a mute spectator and some online mechanism needs to be evolved to ensure that the uninsured vehicles which are registered with the respective transport authorities get reflected in case of non-renewal of insurance policy within the stipulated period and are not permitted to ply on the roads without the insurance cover,” the order said. The MACT order said a software be developed with centralised server connecting the transport authorities with which the vehicles are registered, with access to all insurance firms and the prosecuting agency, Delhi Police.
Detailing how the system should work, it said insurance firms can be asked to update issuance of policies against the registered vehicles with the concerned authority and in case the vehicles are insured within the stipulated period, it could be reflected by the software. The order said notices can be issued to the defaulters for renewing policies or face prosecution.
“The evolving of a system as proposed above or as modified suitably by the concerned authorities would go a long way in curbing the menace of plying of uninsured vehicles and also ensure that the victims of unfortunate accidents are able to avail the benefit of the compensation payable by the insurance companies in accordance with law,” the tribunal said.