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Tusker killed on road,owner gets compensation

Kerala state-run bus kills elephant,SC okays Rs 13.48 lakh relief,says animals property under MV Act

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi |
December 18, 2011 1:27:49 am

After 15 years,Gangadharan has not just secured a compensation of Rs 13,48,250 for his master. The pachyderm who died after being hit by a bus has also led the Supreme Court to redefine the motor vehicle law to include animals in the list of road mishap victims.

In a judgment delivered a few days ago,a Supreme Court Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and T S Thakur ruled that animals come under the definition of “property” under Section 145 of the Motor Vehicles Act,1988,and compensation can indeed be claimed for their death in road accidents.

Owned by the Thrippallavur Devaswom and 27 at the time,Gangadharan had been walking along the Nelliamkunnu road in Palakkad district of Kerala on November 23,1996,when a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus had collided with him. He had never recovered and died two years later.

The corporation had denied negligence,claiming that the driver could not spot Gangadharan on the windy path in the evening.

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The devaswom had filed for compensation,claiming that Gangadharan earned the temple Rs 2 lakh annually.

On February 24,2007,the local Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) had acknowledged the loss to the temple and ordered the KSRTC to cough up Rs13,48,250. The KSRTC,however,had approached the Kerala High Court,calling the compensation “grossly overestimated and excessive”.

Turned down by the high court in June 2010,the KSRTC had approached the Supreme Court,seeking to know “the applicability of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act… on animals”.

“Nowhere in the definition of the section have animals been included and therefore any compensation for the death of animal cannot be filed in MACT… Motor Vehicles Act does not apply to elephants,” the KSRTC counsel contended.

Speaking for the Supreme Court Bench,Justice Thakur said they did not want to “hair-split”. “The elephant is owned by the temple which means it’s god’s property,” he said.

When the KSRTC argued that it was itself incurring a loss of almost Rs 2 crore per month,Justice Thakur said: “That means the black elephant was hit by a white elephant.”

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