Thursday, June 10, 2010

‘Accident claims can’t be heard by division bench’

Ahmedabad: In a setback to insurance companies, Gujarat High Court has ruled that appeals in cases related to motor accident claims cannot be entertained by division bench of high court. With this conclusion the court has dismissed 11 such appeals filed by insurance companies against single-judge bench orders.

Various insurance agencies, like Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Ltd, New India Assurance Co Ltd, and Oriental Insurance Company Ltd,had approached the high court against the decision of the motor accident claims tribunal (MACT) in different cases of accidents. Aggrieved by MACT’s award to claimants, the insurance companies had filed first appeals and were heard by singlejudge benches in the high court.
The decisions of single-judge benches were not acceptable to the companies, who challenged the orders by filing letters patent appeal before a division bench. The cases were heard by a bench of Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi, but the question before the judges was — whether these appeals are maintainable in light of legal provisions? And whether a division bench under Section 100A of Civil Procedure Code can entertain cases against single judge order in first appeals filed under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988?
After a prolonged hearing and citation of various judgements from different high courts, the division bench observed, “In view of overwhelming view of different high courts, we have no hesitation in holding that Section 100A of CPC bars intra-court appeal even in case of special statute when such a statute is silent on the question of further appeal. If the statute does not specifically provide for further appeal against the appellate judgement of the single judge of the high court, Section 100A of CPC would step in to prohibit any further appeal against such judgement.”

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