Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fuel surcharge to compensate hit-and-run victims?

New Delhi: Appalled by the plight of 20,000-odd families who lose their near and dear in hit-and-run cases every year and fail to get a single penny in compensation because the rogue vehicle remains untraceable, the Supreme Court has appealed to Parliament to take new legislative measures.

It has urged lawmakers to explore the possibility of levying additional fuel levy/surcharge on sale of petrol and diesel, or collecting a one-time (lifetime) third party insurance premium by a central agency from every new vehicle sold, or a mixture of these two. Gross inequality in payment of compensation to victims of hit-and-run cases disturbed a Bench of Justices R V Raveendran, M K Sharma and K S Radhakrishnan. It said, “A victim is denied compensation if the vehicle which hits disappears without trace, or if the vehicle is without insurance, while a similar victim hit by an insured vehicle gets compensation.”
To ensure that all accident victims get compensation, it is necessary to formulate a more comprehensive scheme, the Bench said and suggested the two measures, or a mix of them, for deliberation among lawmakers and an appropriate legislation. If an appropriate solution was worked out through legislation, it would also address a major grievance of insurance companies that their outgoing by way of compensation in motor accident claims was four times the amount received as motor accident premium,the court said.
But what bothered it most was the manner in which road accident victims were left to die unattended. “There is therefore an urgent need for laying down and enforcing road safety measures and establishment of many trauma centres and first aid centres,” said Justice Raveendran, writing the judgment for the Bench.

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