The Madras High Court recently in an order (K Kannaki and ors v. A Jalaludeen and anr) stated that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal could not refuse to address accident claim petitions based on the claimants' failure to implead the owners or insurers of all vehicles involved in the accident. The petitioners approached the High Court by filing a Civil Revision petition under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution, it sought to direct the MACT to take on file and decide the claim petitions earlier returned on their merits following the law.
The High Court stated that if the owner and the insurer of both vehicles engaged in an accident then they would be entitled to the compensation without any doubt, they would be considered as parties to the claim petition, it would enable the Tribunal to determine the liability. Still the claimant, being the dominus litis could not be forced to invite other parties, who were originally not impleaded and it was for the claimants to determine. If the case moved before the tribunal against the impleaded parties was found to be false, it would result in the dismissal of the petitions.
"But, the claimant, being the dominus litis cannot be compelled to add other parties, who are not impleaded earlier and it is for the claimants to decide and in case, if the case put forth by the claimants as against the impleaded parties is not true, then they have to suffer the dismissal of the petition," High Court added.
High Court referred to the judgement passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Khenyei v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. & Ors. 2015 and pointed out the observation made regarding the cases of composite negligence that claimant could sue both or any one of the joint tortfeasors to claim the damages for the accident because in such cases joint tortfeasors are jointly and severally liable.
Justice K. Murali Shankar also observed that a Division bench of the Madras High Court in the year 2018 disposed of the case of Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., Kumbakonam v. Thirugnanasambandam without complying with the Supreme Court's order in Khenyei's case. Hence, this judgement had no binding effect. On the other hand, MACT relied on the 2018 Madras High Court judgement, refused to entertain the claim petitions and directed the claimants to first implead the owner and insurer of the two-wheelers. It was concluded that the 2018 judgement of Madras High Court was pronounced without acknowledging the Hon'ble Supreme Court's binding order in Khenyei's case.
High Court further stated "Given the law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the Tribunal has no power or authority, directing the claimants to implead the owner and insurer of the other vehicle. Hence, the order returning the claim petitions is not proper and is very much against the legal dictum laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and hence, the same is set aside and the Tribunal is directed to take the claim petitions on file if they are otherwise in order."