The Gujarat High Court has ruled that when a driver is sued for negligence causing a road accident, that driver’s statements cannot form part of the indictment filed against him.
“The copy of indictment filed against the driver of the offending vehicle – Truck and the fact that he is being prosecuted, if any, indictment is filed against the driver, his own statement recorded in said criminal case would never be part of the indictment as it cannot be used against him during the trial“, Judge Umesh Trivedi nodded.
The observation was made during the hearing of an appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act challenging the decision of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (Main) in which the claimants received compensation worth INR 25,28,000 with interest at 9% per annum. This compensation was for the death of the victim caused in a motor vehicle accident who was the husband of the original Claimant #1 and the father of Claimants #2 and 3.
The deceased was earning INR 11,760 per month while working as Deputy Production Manager when the opponent’s truck rammed the deceased’s motorbike. Accordingly, the Court calculated INR 17,069 as the monthly income of the deceased, including 50% of the potential income. Therefore, INR 25,28,000 has been calculated as the amount of compensation including funeral expenses etc.
The appellant disputed that the deceased had been negligent on a highway crossing the road between the bulkhead. This amounted to contributory negligence, if not exclusive liability. To support this claim, the Appellant relied on the FIR in which it was stated that the accident occurred while he was crossing the road from the divider.
The main view of the High Court was that the Appellant’s own statement recorded in the said criminal case would not form part of the indictment and could not be used against him during the trial.
Moreover, in the absence of any examination of the driver before the Court, the evidence brought before him as to the sole negligence of the driver could not be contested by the Insurance Company. The Company could have cross-examined the driver of the offending vehicle to support its claims, but it did not, the court noted.
Accordingly, he held that the Tribunal had correctly held the driver solely responsible and negligent for causing the death of the deceased. The appeal was dismissed.
Case Title: RELIANCE GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED Versus ASHABEN VIKRAMBHAI CHAUHAN
Case No: C/FA/57/2022
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