Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Whether accident claim petition can be filed in the place where claimant is residing ?

The provision in question, in the present case, is a
benevolent provision for the victims of accidents of
negligent driving. The provision for territorial jurisdiction
has to be interpreted consistent with the object of
facilitating remedies for the victims of accidents. Hyper
technical approach in such matters can hardly be
appreciated. There is no bar to a claim petition being filed
at a place where the insurance company, which is the main
contesting parties in such cases, has its business. In such
cases, there is no prejudice to any party. There is no failure
of justice. Moreover, in view of categorical decision of this
Court in Mantoo Sarkar (supra), contrary view taken by
the High Court cannot be sustained. The High Court failed
to notice the provision of Section 21 CPC.
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 10 OF 2016
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO.27243 OF 2015)
MALATI SARDAR …PETITIONER
VERSUS
NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED
& ORS. ...RESPONDENTS
Dated;JANUARY 5, 2016
ADARSH KUMAR GOEL, J.
Citation; AIR 2016 SC247

1. Leave granted. The question raised in this appeal is
whether the High Court was justified in setting aside the
award of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Kolkata only
on the ground that the Tribunal did not have the territorial
jurisdiction.
2. On 7th May, 2008, the deceased Diganta Sardar, aged
26 years, a school teacher, unmarried son of the appellant
was hit by Bus No.WB/15-A-4959 insured with the
respondent company at Hoogly, in the State of West Bengal
and died. He was travelling on motor cycle of his colleague,
Uttam Samui as a pillion rider. The appellant filed an
application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act,
1988 (“the Act”) for compensation before the Tribunal at
Kolkata.
3. Rash and negligent driving by the driver of the bus
having been established, the Tribunal, applying the
multiplier of 13 on account of age of the appellant being 47
years, and taking into account the income of the deceased
and other relevant factors, fixed compensation of
Rs.16,12,200/- with interest at the rate of 6% p.a. from the
date of filing of claim petition vide its Award dated 7th
February, 2012.
4. The respondent company preferred an appeal before
the High Court on the only ground of lack of territorial
jurisdiction of the Tribunal. The objection of the respondent
was that the accident took place at Hoogly and the claimant
resided at Hoogly. Office of the respondent being at
Kolkata did not attract jurisdiction of the Kolkata Tribunal.
Reliance was placed on the decisions of this Court in Union
of India vs. G.S. Grewal1
 and Jagmittar Sain Bhagat vs.
 Director, Health Services, Haryana2
 apart from the
High Court judgments. The appellant supported the award
by placing reliance on judgment of this Court in Mantoo
1
(2014) 7 SCC 303
2
(2013) 10 SCC 136
Page 2 of
9Page 3
SLP (C) No.27243 of 2015
Sarkar vs. Oriental Insurance Company Limited3
 apart
from other judgments.
5. The High Court upheld the objection of the respondent
and allowed the appeal of the respondent company and
directed refund of the amount deposited/paid, if any, to the
respondent company. It was observed :
“In the instant case admittedly the accident
took place in Hooghly. The claimant, as
evident from the cause title, resides at Hoogly.
The owner, the respondent, too resides at
Hooghly. Hooghly, no doubt, is beyond the
territorial jurisdiction of the Tribunal at Kolkata.
The argument of the respondent-claimant that
the Kolkata Tribunal exercises jurisdiction since
the regional office of the insurance company is
situated within its territorial limits cannot be
accepted as the last option under section
166(2) cannot be construed to mean the
residential address of the company as a
company can have a business or an office
address and not a residential address.
Therefore, the Tribunal at Kolkata had no
jurisdiction to entertain the claim petition. In
this regard we follow the principles of law laid
down in New India Assurance Company Limited
vs. Kustiswar Pramanik (supra) [2010(1) T.A.C.
405 (Cal), in Nirmala Devi Agarwal (supra)
[2013 (3) CLJ (Cal)] and in the unreported
judgment delivered on 18th July, 2012 in FMA
724 of 2008 with C.O.T. 22 of 2008 (The New
Indian Assurance Col. Ltd. vs. Silpi Dutta &
Ors.) and we respectfully disagree with the
judgment in FMA 1454 of 2013 (National
Insurance Company Ltd. vs. Alpana Jana &
Ors.)”.
6. We have heard learned counsel for the parties.
7. Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the
High Court was in grave error in holding that the Kolkata
3
(2009) 2 SCC 244
Page 3 of
9Page 4
SLP (C) No.27243 of 2015
Tribunal could not exercise jurisdiction on the ground that
registered office of the insurance company was within its
territorial limits. Jurisdiction was available under Section
166(2) if the defendant/respondent in a claim petition was
residing within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. The
residence in the case of juristic person included its Principal
office. In any case, the view taken by the High Court is
directly in conflict with the law laid down by this Court in
Mantoo Sarkar (supra) under which the High Court could
interfere in such cases only if there was failure of justice.
The decisions of this Court in G.S. Grewal and Jagmittar
Sain Bhagat have no application to the fact situation
at hand.
8. Learned counsel for the respondent company on the
other hand, supported the view taken by the High Court and
submitted that the place of residence within the jurisdiction
of the Tribunal under Section 166(2) of the Act could not
mean the place of business. He sought to distinguish the
view taken by this Court in Mantoo Sarkar (supra).
9. The question for consideration thus is whether the
Tribunal at Kolkata had the jurisdiction to decide the claim
application under Section 166 of the Act when the accident
took place outside Kolkata jurisdiction and the claimant also
Page 4 of
9Page 5
SLP (C) No.27243 of 2015
resided outside Kolkata jurisdiction, but the respondent
being a juristic person carried on business at Kolkata.
Further question is whether in absence of failure of justice,
the High Court could set aside the award of the Tribunal on
the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction.
10. In our view, the matter is fully covered by decisions of
this Court in Mantoo Sarkar (supra). It will be worthwhile
to quote the statutory provision of Section 166(2) of the
Act :
“166. Application for compensation.— * *
*
(2) Every application under sub-section (1)
shall be made, at the option of the claimant,
either to the Claims Tribunal having jurisdiction
over the area in which the accident occurred,
or to the Claims Tribunal within the local limits
of whose jurisdiction the claimant resides or
carries on business or within the local limits of
whose jurisdiction the defendant resides, and
shall be in such form and contain such
particulars as may be prescribed:
Provided that where no claim for compensation
under Section 140 is made in such application,
the application shall contain a separate
statement to that effect immediately before
the signature of the applicant.”
11. In Mantoo Sarkar (supra), the insurance company
had a branch at Nainital. Accident took place outside the
jurisdiction of Nainital Tribunal. The claimant remained in
the hospital at Bareilly and thereafter shifted to Pilibhit
Page 5 of
9Page 6
SLP (C) No.27243 of 2015
where he was living for a long time. However, at the time of
filing of the claim petition he was working as a labourer in
Nainital District. The High Court took the view that Nainital
Tribunal had no jurisdiction and reversed the view taken by
the Tribunal to the effect that since the office of the
insurance company was at Nainital, the Tribunal had the
jurisdiction. This Court reversed the view of the High Court.
It was held that the jurisdiction of the Tribunal was wider
than the civil court. The Tribunal could follow the provisions
of Code of Civil Procedure (CPC). Having regard to Section
21 CPC, objection of lack of territorial jurisdiction could not
be entertained in absence of any prejudice. Distinction was
required to be drawn between a jurisdiction with regard to
subject matter on the one hand and that of territorial and
pecuniary jurisdiction on the other. A judgment may be
nullity in the former category, but not in the later.
Reference was also made to earlier decision of this Court in
Kiran Singh vs. Chaman Paswan4
 to the following
effect :
“With reference to objections relating to
territorial jurisdiction, Section 21 of the Civil
Procedure Code enacts that no objection to the
place of suing should be allowed by an
appellate or revisional court, unless there was
a consequent failure of justice. It is the same
principle that has been adopted in Section 11
4 AIR 1954 SC 340
Page 6 of
9Page 7
SLP (C) No.27243 of 2015
of the Suits Valuation Act with reference to
pecuniary jurisdiction. The policy underlying
Sections 21 and 99 CPC and Section 11 of the
Suits Valuation Act is the same, namely, that
when a case had been tried by a court on the
merits and judgment rendered, it should not be
liable to be reversed purely on technical
grounds, unless it had resulted in failure of
justice, and the policy of the legislature has
been to treat objections to jurisdiction both
territorial and pecuniary as technical and not
open to consideration by an appellate court,
unless there has been a prejudice on the
merits. The contention of the appellants,
therefore, that the decree and judgment of the
District Court, Monghyr, should be treated as a
nullity cannot be sustained under Section 11 of
the Suits Valuation Act.’ ”
12. We are thus of the view that in the face of judgment of
this Court in Mantoo Sarkar (supra), the High Court was
not justified in setting aside the award of the Tribunal in
absence of any failure of justice even if there was merit in
the plea of lack of territorial jurisdiction. Moreover, the fact
remained that the insurance company which was the main
contesting respondent had its business at Kolkata.
13. Reliance placed on decisions of this Court in G.S.
Grewal and Jagmittar Sain Bhagat is misplaced. In G.S.
Grewal, the subject matter of dispute was not covered by
the definition of “service matters” under Section 3(o) of the
Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 and on that ground, it was
held that the Armed Forces Tribunal had no jurisdiction in
the matter. Thus, it was a case of inherent lack of

jurisdiction over the subject matter. Similarly in Jagmittar
Sain Bhagat, the claimant before the Consumer Protection
Forum was found not be a “consumer” under Section 2(1)
(d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and on that
ground the order of the consumer forum was held to be
without jurisdiction. The said cases did not deal with the
issue of territorial jurisdiction.
14. The provision in question, in the present case, is a
benevolent provision for the victims of accidents of
negligent driving. The provision for territorial jurisdiction
has to be interpreted consistent with the object of
facilitating remedies for the victims of accidents. Hyper
technical approach in such matters can hardly be
appreciated. There is no bar to a claim petition being filed
at a place where the insurance company, which is the main
contesting parties in such cases, has its business. In such
cases, there is no prejudice to any party. There is no failure
of justice. Moreover, in view of categorical decision of this
Court in Mantoo Sarkar (supra), contrary view taken by
the High Court cannot be sustained. The High Court failed
to notice the provision of Section 21 CPC.

15. Accordingly, we allow this appeal, set aside the
impugned judgment of the High Court and restore the
award of the Tribunal.
…………..……..…………………………….J.
 [ ANIL R. DAVE ]
…………..….………………………………..J.
 [ ADARSH KUMAR GOEL ]
NEW DELHI
JANUARY 5, 2016

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