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Quick disposal of motor TP claims to be a reality soon

The jurisdictional police station shall report the accident under Section 158(6) of the (Motor Vehicle) Act (Section 159 post-2019 amendment) to the tribunal and insurer within the first 48 hours either over email or a dedicated website, the court directed on the reporting of the Accident Information Report

Quick disposal of motor TP claims to be a reality soon
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Quick disposal of motor TP claims to be a reality soon

India accounts for 11% of global death in road mishaps

Mumbai: Agonising legal wrangling and inordinate delay plaguing the motor insurance sector will be a thing of the past as the accident claims process undergoes a massive overhaul. Recent directives of the Supreme Court has put the ball rolling for setting up a comprehensive mechanism for the speedy disposal of motor accident claims. The apex court has issued a number of directions for police, Motor Accident Claim Tribunals (MACTs) and insurance firms to streamline the payment of compensation to the victims of road accidents.

In its order passed on March 16, a Bench comprising Justice S K Kaul and Justice R Subhash Reddy directed the Central government to develop an online platform accessible to all stakeholders throughout India for smooth and speedy disposal of accident cases. Apex Court's intervention came on a writ petition filed by one of India's largest insurance firms, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company, highlighting the plight of victims who have been waiting for years for their compensations. The central government sought some more time to work out the period within which the directions can be implemented by creating the necessary infrastructure and fixed the matter for further directions on May 4.

Additional Solicitor General, Jayant Sood has been appointed by the apex court to talk to various stakeholders in this connection.

The Supreme Court in its March order gave thrust for setting up an online mechanism and said insurers would have to deposit the amount to the accounts maintained by judicial tribunals for speedy disbursal of compensation to the accident victims.

Welcoming the measures taken by the Apex Court, Managing Partner at KS Legal & Associates, Sonam Chandwani said "the Apex Court has recently issued the much-awaited directions for establishing a uniform procedure for compensation in motor accident matters. The slew of directions issued to the police, Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals (MACTs), and insurance companies is a massive stride in the right direction for making MACT cases claimant-friendly, smooth and expeditious in delivering justice. However, its objective is achieved solely upon robust implementation of the directions which shall be gauged over."

Bajaj in its plea said the police take months to even file an accident report for submission before the claims tribunal. The report is the first step towards fixing compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act. The delay is often due to a chronic shortage of manpower in the police force, unwieldy geography or pure lethargy. It pleaded to the court that expeditious disposal of motor accidents claims is a fundamental right for beneficiaries as well as insurance companies. The Motor Vehicles Act is welfare legislation whose primary objective is victims and their families get timely and appropriate compensation. The company further said in its plea that the delay destroys crucial and important evidence and argued that delay also adds to the trauma of the accident and affects the victim's right to equality and access to justice.

Concurring with the Bajaj plea, ICICI Lombard General Insurance, MD, Bhargava Dasgupta observed, "the third-party claim is a social policy as it benefits the third person who became a victim of road mishap for no fault of the person. So, we are of the firm belief that such claims must be settled fast. Unfortunately, due to various procedural reasons, it gets delayed. The amended Motor Act clearly says that such claims must be settled within 48 hours." Supreme Court considered various mechanisms and issued a slew of directives to streamline the compensation process. The jurisdictional police station shall report the accident under Section 158(6) of the (Motor Vehicle) Act (Section 159 post-2019 amendment) to the tribunal and insurer within the first 48 hours either over email or a dedicated website, the Court directed on the reporting of the Accident Information Report.

Following the lodging of the Report, the Police shall collect the documents relevant to the accident and for computation of compensation and shall verify the information and documents. These documents shall form part of the Report. It shall email the Report to the tribunal and the insurer within three months. Similarly, the claimants may also be permitted to email the application for compensation with supporting documents under Section 166 to the tribunal and the insurer within the same time.

Afterwards, the MACT shall issue summons along with the Report or the application for compensation, as the case may be, to the insurer by email, the Court directed.

Kumud Das

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